Retired Navy Capt. James Erskine Hamilton, 78, who was in charge of the division of schedules and statistics in the Bureau of Ships in World War II, died Tuesday at his home in Alexandria after a series of strokes.

At his retirement in 1951, he was with the Navy Department's management survey unit in the office of the under secretary.

After retirement, Capt. Hamilton worked with the staff of George Washington University's Naval Logistics Research Project, remaining there through the 1960s.

He was born in St. Joseph, Mo., and grew up in Omaha, Neb. He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1920 under an accelerated 3-year program.

After serving on cruisers, Capt. Hamilton studied at the Naval Post Graduate School in Annapolis and earned a master's degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

He came to Washington in the early 1930s with the Navy's Bureau of Engineering. After further sea duty he returned to engineering duty here in 1937. He remained here during most of the war and earned the Legion of Merit.

A life member of the American Society of Naval Engineers, Capt. Hamilton had edited its Naval Engineers Journal.

He received the society's Flagship Award in 1966. Two years later, the society established the Jimmie Hamilton Award in his honor to be given annually to the author of the most outstanding technical paper to be published in the Journal.

Capt. Hamilton is survived by two daughters, Peggy Mooney, with whom he lived, and Betty Jane Carmack, of Pasadena, and 12 grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Visiting Nurse Service of Fairfax Country.