Patterson departed Philadelphia 23 October 1911, calling at Newport, Rhode Island and New York, before arriving at Boston 2 November 1911, her home port for operations off the New England Coast, the Virginia Capes, and south to Charleston, South Carolina, Pensacola, Florida and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. She arrived off Vera Cruz from Pensacola 20 May 1914 and headed home four days later.
As America entered World War I, Patterson patrolled along the New England coast in the approaches to Newport and Boston to safeguard inbound transatlantic convoys. One patrol mission took her as far north as St. Johns, Newfoundland.
The first United States help to our hard-pressed Allies was the assignment of US destroyers to the British Fleet to help combat enemy submarines that threatened to cut the sea lifelines to the British Isles. Patterson was the flagship of the second division of destroyers to cross the Atlantic on this mission. The destroyers, however, could not make it across the North Atlantic without refueling. Newly-commissioned fleet oiler Maumee, whose executive officer and chief engineer was Lt. Chester W. Nimitz, stationed herself in mid-Atlantic, between Boston and Queenstown, Ireland.
Patterson led Division 5 out of Boston Harbor 21 May 1917 and made rendezvous with Maumee the morning of 28 May. She was the first destroyer to maneuver alongside Maumee to receive fuel oil enabling her to complete the Atlantic crossing. The division arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, 1 June 1917. There, Patterson and her sister destroyers received British signal books and depth charges.
On 5 June 1917, Patterson began patrol and escort duty in the approaches to Queenstown. On the 12th, she dropped depth charges to help drive away a German U-boat attacking SS Indian. A collision with His Majesty’s tug Dreadful at the entrance to Berehaven Harbor, Ireland on the night of 1 January 1918 damaged Patterson’s bow but she resumed regular escort and patrol duty on 5 February. Two days later she rescued 12 survivors of steamship Mexico City, which had been torpedoed by a German submarine. Patterson, patrolling in the Irish Sea 17 May, dropped depth charges that drove away German U-101. She continued patrol out of Queenstown until 4 June 1918 and then departed for the United States.
On 16 June 1918, one day out of Bermuda, Patterson rescued survivors of the Norwegian bark Kringsjaa, sunk by German U-151. She landed the survivors at the Cape May Naval Station and continued on to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving 18 June for overhaul. She departed Norfolk 17 August for Tompkinsville, New York. There she joined the escort of battleship Pennsylvania bound for Norfolk.
On 22 August Patterson got underway from that base as flagship of the “Patterson Group,” a special hunting squadron that included 11 submarine chasers. The group hunted U-boats north from the Virginia Capes to New York. When cargoman Felix Taussig mistook submarine chaser SC-188 for an enemy submarine and opened fire 27 August 1918, Patterson helped rescue the survivors and carried seven of the injured into New York Harbor for transfer to the US Navy hospital ship Comfort. On 3 September, Patterson dropped depth charges to drive away a German U-boat and continued hunter-killer patrols along the eastern seaboard until the hunting group disbanded on 23 November.
On 1 January 1919, Patterson entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard and remained there until she was transferred to the US Coast Guard on 28 April 1924. During the prohibition era, she patrolled the eastern seaboard as far south as ports of Florida. Returned to the Navy 18 October 1930, she remained inactive until her name was cancelled 1 July 1933 to permit its assignment to a newly authorized destroyer. Her hulk was sold for scrapping 2 May 1934 in accordance with the London Treaty limiting naval armament. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 28 June 1934.