Retired Navy Capt. Robert E. Williams, 61, a submarine officer in World War II who later directed the Naval War College's School of Naval Warfare, died of cancer Wednesday at the National Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Hospital. He lived in Falls Church.

Capt. Williams received his commission as an ensign in 1941 and retired in 1972.

During World War II, he participated in 13 war patrols as a submarine officer in the Pacific theater. He served as an operations officer for a military assistance advisory group in Taiwan in the early 1950s and commanded several destroyers in the 1950s and 1960s.

He came to Falls Church in 1959, when he served the first of two tours of duty at the Pentagon. His last tour, from 1968 to 1972, was at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I, where he served first as Director of the School of Naval Warfare, then as Chief of Staff of Naval War College.

After retiring from active duty, Capt. Williams was a private consultant on energy matters for several federal agencies until 1976. For the past five years he was an executive with the Century 21 real estate company.

Capt. Williams was a native of China. He came to this country in 1937 to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1941.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marian Love, of Falls Church; three sons, Robert E. Jr. of Silverdale, Wash., William W. of Barrington, Ill., and Michael of Charlottesville; two daughters, Debbie of Falls Church, and Shelley Holloway of Waynesboro; his mother, Clotilde L., and a sister, Virginia Willingham, both of Oakland, Calif., and three grandchildren.