Dr. Morgan L. William, 74, a metallurgist at the National Bureau of Standards for more than 40 years, died Tuesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He had emphysema.

During the early days of World War II, Dr. Williams discovered that Liberty Ships -- transports that were built on a mass basis -- were breaking up because of certain properties in the metal used in their construction. The defects were corrected and the ships played a significant role in the allied war effort.

For this work, Dr. Williams received the Lincoln Award of the American Welding Society in 1942, the Silver Medal of the Department of Commerce, of which the National Bureau of Standards is a part, in 1949, and the A. G. Bissell Award from the American Welding Society in 1968.

Dr. Williams was born in Wisconsin and earned a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics at Ripon College in 1928. In 1933, he earned a doctorate in physics from Brown University.

He then moved to Washington and joined the U.S. Patent Office as an examiner. He began his career at the Bureau of Standards in 1938 and formally retired in 1971. He remained on as a consultant until last October.

Dr. Williams, who lived in Bethedsa, was the author or co-author of more than 25 papers published in professional journals. He was a member of the American Welding Society and a past-president of its Washington Chapter, the American Society for Metals and the American Physical Society.

He also was a Boy Scout leader and was associated for many years with Troop 213 in Bethesda.

Survivors include his wife, Vivian of Bethesda; one son, Army Maj. Joseph L. of Alexandria; one daughter, Peggy Hanna of Bayside Beach, Md., and four grandchildren.