Thomas Joseph Rudden Jr., 70, a retired rear admiral whose 36-year career in the Navy included service in three wars, died of congestive heart failure March 10 at a hospital in Key West, Fla., where he was spending a vacation.

Adm. Rudden, a resident of McLean, retired from the Navy in 1971. At his retirement he was coordinator of the antiship missile program in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

A native of Newark, he was a 1939 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was serving aboard the battleship California when the ship was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Later in World War II he was assigned to destroyer duty in the South Pacific.

After the war, Adm. Rudden earned a master's degree in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also attended the Naval War College.

During the Korean War he was commanding officer of a destroyer in Korean waters.

He was promoted to rear admiral in 1965 and subsequently served as a flotilla commander aboard the battleship New Jersey during the war in Vietnam.

A permanent resident of the Washington area since 1970, Adm. Rudden had been naval consultant for the St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. since his retirement from the Navy. He also served on the boards of directors of McLaughlin Research Corp. in New York, the Washington council of the Navy League and the Carl Vinson Hall in McLean.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, of McLean; two daughters, Pamela Jean White of Fairfax and Patti Lynn Cox of Lynchburg, Va.; one son, Michael Scott Rudden of Albany, N.Y., and eight grandchildren.