Daniel Joseph Murphy Sr., 79, a retired four-star Navy admiral who as chief of staff to then-Vice President George Bush was the prime architect of the Reagan administration's war on drugs, died of a stomach aneurysm Sept. 21 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. He lived in Potomac.

Adm. Murphy, former commander of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean who retired from active duty in 1977, led a White House drug task force that set up a military-style command and control center in southern Florida in the early 1980s to help curb the flow of marijuana and cocaine smuggled from South America and the Caribbean.

The massive effort cost millions of dollars, involved the coordination of military planes and ships, and included agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Customs Service.

Before his White House work, he was deputy undersecretary of defense for policy from 1977 to 1981 and deputy director of the CIA in 1976 and 1977.

He left government service in 1985, at the beginning of President Ronald Reagan's second term, to join the lobbying and public relations firm Hill & Knowlton Worldwide in Washington as a vice chairman.

When Bush established his presidential campaign, Adm. Murphy briefly returned to the political arena, serving as a senior adviser on drug policy, national security and defense issues.

In recent years, he was chairman of the board, president and chief executive of his consulting business, Daniel J. Murphy and Co., which advises clients in international marketing and U.S. and foreign government relations.

He was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Naval War College.

He began his 37-year naval career in 1943 during his second year at St. John's University in New York. He flew antisubmarine patrols over the North Atlantic during World War II.

He was commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Bennington in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, he was principal military assistant to secretaries of Defense Melvin R. Laird and Elliot L. Richardson.

He was commander of the 6th Fleet during two periods of tension: the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 and the Cyprus crisis of 1974. He also was part of a father-son pair to have commanded Navy fleets. His son, retired Adm. Daniel J. Murphy Jr., commanded the 6th Fleet from 1998 to 2000.

In addition to his son, of Clifton, survivors include his wife, Elaine Murphy of Bethesda; three children, Shaun Murphy of Washington, Pamela Murphy of Coronado, Calif., and Thomas Murphy, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Valetta, Malta; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.