Retired Navy Rear Adm. Hebert Seymour Howard, 92, who specialized in the design and construction of ships, died Wednesday at his home in Washington.

From June, 1942, until October, 1942, he was head of the design division of the Bureau of Ships. He later served as director of the David W. Taylor Model Basin at Carderuck until he retired in 1946.

Born in Buffalo, X.Y., Adm. Howard graduated from Annapolis in 1904. After two years of duty at sea, he earned a master's degree in naval architecture from the Masshechusetts Institute of Technology.

From 1917 to 1924, he directed the construction of submarines at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, N.H. Adm. Howard was assistant naval attache at the American Embassy in London from 1932 to 1935 with additional duty in Paris, Rome, the Hague and Berlin.

After retiring, Adm. Howard served as a consultant for several years at the Pratt Institute in New York.

His decorations included the Legion of Merit and Commander of the British Empire.

A member of St. John's Church Lafayette Square, since 1914, he had been a vestryman since 1935 and was a warden emeritus.

He belonged to the Metropolitan and Chevy Chase clubs.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Morris Macauley Howard, of the home: two-sons, retired Navy Capt. Macauley Howard of Washington, and Herbert Seymour Jr., of Marselles, France: a daughter, Mrs. Anthony Ballouch, of Wilton, Conn, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the St. John's Church Memorial Fund.