James M. Hannan, 68, a senior vice president and director of the American Safety Equipment Corp., died Sunday in a Pontiac, Mich., hospital. He lived in West Bloomfield, Mich.

Mr. Hannan had represented the Detroit-based corporation in Washington from April, 1974 to November, 1976, when he returned to Michigan. he had joined the firm in Detroit in 1968.

During World War II, he was a Navy officer and participated in amphibious landings in the Pacific, receiving the Bronze Star. Later in the war, he was secretary of the Secretariat of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. He also attended the 1943 Cairo-Tehran Conference as a Navy aide to President Roosevelt.

Born in Lincoln, Neb., Mr. Hannan graduated from Yale University in 1933, and was commissioned in the Navy Reserve. He worked in New York City until he was called to active duty in February, 1941.

He was president of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps from 1964 to 1966 and of the Navy League of the United States from 1969 to 1971. At the time of his death, he was first vice president of the Retired Officers Association.

In 1966 and again in 1971, he received the Secretary of the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1971, he also was honored with the Coast Guard's Distinguished Service Award.

Mr. Hannan had been an active member of the Chevy Chase Club, the Army and Navy Club and the Army, Navy Country Club here.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Luther Hannan, of the home; a daughter, Elizabeth Glover, of Brunswick, Maine; his mother, Janet M. Hannan, a brother, William E. Hannan Jr., and a sister, Elizabeth Hyman, all of Alexandria; another brother, Kenneth H. Hannan, of New Canaan, Conn.; another sister, Isabella Pfeil, of Davis, Calif., and three grandchildren.