In the years that preceded World War I, Jenkins was based at Newport, Rhode Island and trained with the Atlantic Fleet, sailing to the Caribbean for winter maneuvers and operating along the East Coast in summer. In addition, she sailed to Tampico, Mexico in mid-April 1914 to support the American occupation of Vera Cruz.
As the war raged in Europe, Jenkins continued patrol operations along the North American coast in search of possible German U-boats. The patrols and maneuvers sharpened her war-readiness so that, true to Navy tradition, she was ready for any eventuality when she sailed for Europe 26 May 1917.
Based at Queenstown, Ireland, Jenkins and her sister destroyers patrolled the eastern Atlantic, escorting convoys and rescuing survivors of sunken merchantmen. She continued escort and patrol duty for the duration of the War. Though she made several submarine contacts no results were determined. Following the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, Jenkins sailed for home, arriving at Boston 3 January 1919.
The destroyer operated along the Atlantic coast until arriving at Philadelphia 20 July. She remained there until decommissioning 31 October 1919. Jenkins was scrapped in 1935 in accordance with the Treaty of London.