Walter Franklin Zartman, 55, president of the Surfa-Shield Corp. of Fairfax and a retired Navy captain and intelligence officer who specialized in China, died Monday at Fairfax Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Vienna.

Capt. Zartman, who was born in Greentown, Ind., became an administrative officer of Surfa-Shield, a national manufacturer and distributor of building materials, after his military retirement in 1975. He had served as president of the company since 1979.

He began his naval career in the closing months of World War II, received his commission in 1945 and served in the Pacific. After the war, he attended Purdue University and the Naval Intelligence School, where he specialized in Chinese. He was a naval attache in Taiwan from 1952 to 1954 and a liaison officer in Hong Kong in the mid-1960s.

His assignments at sea included the command of escort and destroyer squadrons. From 1971 to 1973, he was captain of the heavy cruiser Newport News in Vietnamese waters. He received the Legion of Merit with combat V for this service.

He later was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations here and served as director of the National Intelligence Indications Center. He was deputy director of the Joint Strategic Warning Staff when he retired in 1975.

Capt. Zartman was a graduate of the Naval War College and earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.

Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Silvia, of Vienna; two daughters, Elizabeth, of Newport, R.I., and Christine Cooper of Royalston, Mass.; a son, Walter, of Allentown, Pa.; two brothers, Carroll, of Plymouth, Ind., and Vance, of Indianapolis, and a sister, Eleanor Winrotte of Three Rivers, Mich.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contriutions to the Vienna Rescue Squad or to the American Heart Association.