Retired Rear Adm. James Charles Dempsey 70, a noted World War II submarine commander whose ship evacuted the survivors of Corregidor in 1942, died of congestive heart failure Monday at a Portsmouth hospital.

U.S. forces had holed up on the island after the fall of the Philippines. Their evacuation by Adm, Dempsey's USS Spearfish became the inspiration for the motion picture, "Operation Petticoat."

The feat won him a gold star in lieu of a second Navy Cross. He had won his first Navy Cross when, as a lieutenant at the outset of the war, the submarine under his command sank the first Japanese destroyer sent to the bottom bya U.S. sub.

In the years since World War II, Adm, Dempsey had held many major Navy commands. Promoted to flag rank in November 1959, he served for two years as commander of the Military Sea Transport Service, Atlantic, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

From 1966 to 1968, he was assistant vice chief of naval operations and director of naval administration in Washington, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Subsequently, Adm. Dempsey commanded Amphibious Group II and the Amphibious Training Command in Norfolk.

For two years before his retirement in June 1970, he was commandant of the 5th Naval District, with headquarters here. Adm. Dempsey was a native of Eastport, Md., but had lived in the Norfolk area for most of his life. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

He is survived by his wife, Audrey, of the home in Norfolk; two daughters, Jean D. Wolf and Susan Colleen, both of New York City; two sons, James S., of Bethesda, and Charles C., of groton, Conn, two sisters, two brothers and two grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, REAR ADM. JAMES C. DEMPSEY