Ret. Rear Adm. Albert C. Murdaugh, 78, who was decorated for his work as a convoy operations commanding officer in the Atlantic during World War II and who later taught engineering at two universities, died of cancer Friday at his home in Arlington.

Adm. Murdaugh was awarded the Legion of Merit for commanding a convoy escort mission in the North Atlantic in February 1942, which outfought, outmaneuvered and finally eluded "a determined and persistent attack by a concentration estimated to consist of five or six enemy submarines."

Later in the war, he served as Operations Officer for Destroyers, Atlantic, and as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 17, in which capacity he was in charge of trans-Atlantic troop convoys and task groups in the Normandy and Southern France invasions. He subsequently received another Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star with combat V's and a Croix de Guerre from France for this service.

Adm. Murdaugh's post-war assignments included duty as Executive Officer of the Naval Postgraduate School, command of a cruiser in the Mediterranean, and staff positions on the National Security Council. His last assignment before retiring in 1953 was as director of the Office of Foreign Military Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

After retiring, he became a lecturer on foreign affairs at the University of Virginia. He was a professor of engineering at George Washington University for about 12 years before retiring a second time in 1966.

A native of Alexandria, Adm. Murdaugh graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He earned a master's degree in metalurgy from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He had lived in Arlington for the past 40 years.

Survivors include his wife, Irene, of Arlington, and two sons, John D. of Charlottesville, and William B., of Reno, Nev.