The Royal Navy is investigating how official documents about one of their submarines, HMS Anson, were left in the toilet of a pub in Barrow, Cumbria. The papers were marked “official sensitive” and contained information about the inner workings of the nuclear-powered submarine. Although they were generic training documents and did not reveal classified information, the Royal Navy is taking this matter seriously. The submarine is one of the most advanced hunter-killer submarines in the world and the fifth of new Astute-class attack submarines to join the Royal Navy fleet. It can fire tomahawk missiles and is capable of gathering vital intelligence, protecting other Royal Navy vessels, and destroying enemy military infrastructure with pinpoint accuracy.
The Sun reported that the pub was busy when the documents were found on the floor of a toilet cubicle. The pub is close to the BAE Systems shipyard where the submarine was being constructed. The documents were said to contain details about how to isolate and depressurise elements of the submarine’s system. People familiar with the development said that while the documents help submariners and contractors to understand how systems interact, they do not reveal how they work.
Documents marked “official sensitive” are classified one level below “Secret”. Officials said it was fortunate that no Russian spy found them as details about HMS Anson’s hydraulics were in the dossier, which control torpedo hatches, steering and buoyancy.