SOME 18 shipyard employees and Royal Navy personnel were taken to Furness General Hospital after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected on a submarine.

An evacuation was sparked at around 7.15am on Saturday onboard Audacious in Devonshire Dock after sensors detected high levels of carbon monoxide.

A fire crew from Barrow fire station was sent to assist and the shipyard has now confirmed 18 people who had been onboard the submarine at the time were taken to Furness General Hospital.

The Evening Mail understands the leak was due to a failure in the clean air filtration system, including the back-up system.

One woman who was in A&E at the time said she understood those affected had blood tests and oxygen saturation levels tested and the influx resulted in delays for other patients.

A spokesperson for BAE Systems said the 18 people were taken to a hospital "as a precaution".

They said: "At 7.15am, on Saturday, there was a controlled evacuation of Audacious after the submarine's monitoring systems detected higher-than-normal levels of carbon monoxide on-board.

"By early afternoon this was resolved and employees returned to work."

Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute class attack submarines being built for the Royal Navy, was launched by BAE Systems at the end of April.

The 97-metre long, 7,400-tonne nuclear-powered submarine was lowered into the dock water for the first time to begin the next phase of its test and commissioning programme. It is due to leave Barrow for sea trials next year.