Samuel Loring Morison, the Navy intelligence analyst recently convicted of giving classified material to a British publication, Jane's Defence Weekly, had worked part-time since 1976 with approval of the top Navy brass for "Jane's Fighting Ships," a prestigious sister publication.

At the same time Morison was employed full time for the Naval Intelligence Support Center (NISC) as a specialist on Soviet ships, he also openly held the title of editor of the U.S. section of "Jane's Fighting Ships." As such, for eight years, he supplied that publication with data and photographs concerning not only the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, but also other countries' navies, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The overlap of Morison's two jobs was illustrated by the business card he carried for "Jane's Fighting Ships," a slick 1,000-page Bible of the world's navies. The card listed as his Jane's telephone number the office phone in the secure area of the NISC facility in Suitland.

Morison's situation illustrates a little-known side of Pentagon public information policy. Despite the constant stream of official complaints about information leaks, Defense Department regulations encourage Pentagon employes to write articles and allow work under contract for outside publications.

The only prohibition on such moonlighting is that the publishing work not be "dependent on information obtained as a result of . . . government employment." But even this is allowed if the material "has been published or is generally available to the public or it will be made generally available."

In what appears to be a reference to classified information, the Pentagon regulations say that an agency head may give "written authorization for the use of non-public information on the basis that the use is in the public interest."

The crime for which Morison was recently convicted and sentenced to two years in prison -- sending secret satellite photos of a Soviet aircraft carrier under construction to Jane's Defence Weekly last year -- was not authorized by any superior and appeared to be significantly different from his work for "Jane's Fighting Ships." According to court testimony, he took the pictures from a colleague's desk without permission, cut off the security stamp before mailing them and lied when initially questioned.

Sources close to the former Navy analyst said last week that on earlier occasions Morison had been given photos of Soviet ships to send to "Jane's Fighting Ships." A former superior in Morison's department, however, said he did not know of any such incident.

In a July 1979 letter made available to The Post, Jane's editor John E. Moore wrote to Morison to "let you know that your photographs arrived safely" and to note "we are already collecting data for the 1980/81 edition [of Fighting Ships] and this contribution of yours is a great start -- particularly as there was a heap of Soviet pics."

But when contacted by telephone in England, Moore said, "All [Morison] ever did was to update the U.S. section." Asked about Morison sending photos of Soviet ships, Moore said he "wouldn't dream of asking him for something else . . . . There are other places that supply that."

Pentagon officials were asked last week for the names of employes who have part-time jobs with publications. The only case mentioned was Morison.

Jane's Publishing, which puts out the Defence Weekly and more than a dozen books similar to "Fighting Ships," was asked if it had any other U.S. government employes working for it under contract and refused to respond.

"I don't think it would be helpful to discuss our arrangements with people in the [United] States," Richard Coltart, spokesman for the publisher, said yesterday in a telephone interview from England. "We have correspondents all over," he said, "[and] discussing our arrangements with them is a little improper."

Morison, however, was not the only Pentagon employe approved by the Navy to work for Jane's. Arthur David Baker III, currently a program analyst for Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr., said recently that he provided drawings and occasional information, all of it unclassified, to Jane's in the late 1970s while he worked for Navy intelligence. For the past eight years, he has also provided English translations for a competing French book about warships, which is published in this country under the title "Combat Ships" by the Naval Institute Press.

Baker said he limited his outside work to "evening and weekend activities."

He also justified his own and Morison's work for Jane's by saying that "there is a threat" to U.S. interests and that such information should "get to the public."

Another Jane's part-timer has been Robert L. Scheina, the U.S. Coast Guard historian, who said that "from 1980 through last year" he had supplied Jane's with data for its section detailing ship radars. In addition, Scheina said, he sent Jane's photographs of foreign ships, which he took during vacations for a book about South American navies.

Scheina said his Jane's work on Coast Guard material was approved by his superiors. The material he provided on radars, he said, was "from open sources" and that "you can read radars from antennae" shown in ship photographs.

In a December 1976 letter to Morison, Jane's managing director Sidney Jackson wrote that Morison's proposed annual salary would be "in excess of what we pay a fellow American for exactly comparable work on another book." Jane's also publishes books on aircraft, missiles and land weapons. Jackson could not be reached for comment.

Morison each year distributed copies of the $125 "Jane's Fighting Ships" to about 20 Pentagon officials including the secretary of the Navy, the chief of naval operations, the chief of Navy information and Navy information specialists who gave him data, according to documents obtained by The Post.

A November 1983 photo showing Morison and Moore, the editor, delivering a copy of Jane's to the chief of naval operations, Adm. James D. Watkins, was taken from Morison during a search of his quarters by government investigators, according to a source close to Morison. The photo carried an inscription from Watkins to Morison praising his work for Jane's, the source added.

Moore is a retired captain who served with British Royal Navy intelligence and specialized in the Soviet navy. In 1976, he arranged for U.S. Navy approval of Morison's employment by Jane's by clearing it with a friend, the then-vice chief of naval operations, Adm. Harold Shear, according to documents in the Morison case that Moore confirmed.

Jackson's 1976 letter to Morison outlining his job and salary said he would "collect and supply the editor of 'Jane's Fighting Ships' with up-to-date information and photographs with particular reference to the ships of the U.S.A., Korea, Taiwan and Philippine navies and transfers of ships to other navies."

In 1982, according to documents, Morison's immediate superiors became unhappy with the amount of time he was devoting to Jane's, and he looked to Moore for help. That led to a November 1983 letter from Moore to Adm. Roland J. Hays, then vice chief of naval operations, asking for "a directive saying, roughly that the USN [U.S. Navy], in view of the use made of the book, has no objection to the receipt of messages during working hours (provided this does not conflict with the timely discharge of NISC requirements)."

A Feb. 24, 1984, Navy memorandum, filed in the Morison case, outlined the settlement up to that point of the "part-time employment" of Morison. It called his position with Jane's "unique" and said it could be carried on in NISC offices after normal duty hours and that he could receive "an occasional telephone call during normal working hours."

But it said Morison could not use government equipment or materials, nor could he "obtain classified information on the U.S. Navy and extract unclassified data for inclusion in Jane's."

In his 1983 letter to Hays, Moore wrote that although Morison's continuing work for Jane's was being questioned as a conflict of interest by his immediate superiors in Navy intelligence, his contribution was necessary "if we are to have an accurate section for the USN . . . for the benefit of the USN."