President Carter's nominee as Secretary of the Navy indicated yesterday he might take a tough line on shipbuilders who have filed $2.4 billion in claims against the government, even forcing them into bankruptcy if it was in the national interest.

W. Graham Clayton Jr., 65, former president of Southern Railway, offered the view in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination and that of attorney Clifford L. Alexander Jr. to be Secretary of the Army.

Both nominations are expected to clear the Senate without trouble. Chairman John C. Stennis (D-Miss.) said at the close of the hearing that he would poll committee members informally and report the nominations to the Senate floor as soon as possible.

The claims have dragged on for years without settlement, delaying delivery of a number of warships and resulting in a court order to force continued work on an aircraft carrier.

[WORD ILLEGIBLE] think it would be in the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of the country to force [WORD ILLEGIBLE] into bankruptcy, but it [WORD ILLEGIBLE] said Claytor, who served in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in World War II and (v. ORD ILLEGIBLElieutenant commander. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] who served in the Kennedy administration and who was a candidate for mayor of the District of Columbia in 1974, was questioned on the viability of the all-volunteer Army and his views on restoring the draft to solve a manpower shortage in the reserves.

"I would not commit myself to an involuntary method of bringing people into the reserve" at this point, he said. "If it was a matter of national defense, I would, but not until the need was perceived."