Following commissioning, Tucker commenced trials off the East Coast before reporting to Division 8, Destroyer Force, United States Atlantic Fleet. While World War I raged in Europe, Tucker and units of the Fleet conducted exercises and maneuvers in southern and Cuban waters into the spring of 1917.
Steaming independently in the West Indies, she received word of the United States’ declaration of war on the Central Powers on 6 April 1917. Upon this notification of the commencement of hostilities, Tucker soon joined the Fleet at its anchorage in the York River before being ordered to proceed to the Boston Navy Yard, Mass., for fitting-out for war.
The immediate and pressing need for escort ships led to the deployment of American destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland, commencing with the departure of six ships on 24 April under Comdr. J. K. Taussig. Later, Tucker, in company with Rowan (Destroyer No. 64), Cassin (Destroyer No. 43), Ericsson (Destroyer No. 56), Winslow (Destroyer No. 53), and Jacob Jones (Destroyer No. 61) set out from Boston on 7 May as the second contingent of United States ships designated to operate in conjunction with British surface forces patrolling off the Irish coast.
Arriving on 17 May, Tucker and her sister ships soon commenced wartime operations. On 12 June, she rescued 47 survivors from the stricken merchantman SS Poluxena; on 1 August, she saved 39 men from the torpedoed SS Karina. For the remainder of 1917 and into the late spring of 1918, Tucker operated out of Queenstown, hunting German submarines, escorting and convoying ships through the submarine-infested war zones, and providing assistance to ships in distress.
By the early summer of 1918, as American forces poured into the war on the Western Front and swelled in numbers on the continent of Europe, the need for escorts to convoy the ships that bore the men and materiel grew apace. Thus, American destroyers were progressively transferred to the eastern Atlantic to augment the escort forces already operating in that war zone.
In June 1918, Tucker joined the escorts working out of Brest, France. On 1 August, while steaming out to meet an inbound convoy, she received word that the group’s escort, the French cruiser Dupetit-Thuoars, had been torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. The American destroyer soon arrived on the scene and helped to save the survivors of the stricken French warship from the waters of the Bay of Biscay. Tucker’s efforts, and those of the five other American destroyers who were also present, were rewarded by a commendation from the Prefet Maritime, on behalf of the French Ministry of Marine.
While taking part in the campaign to eradicate the German submarine menace preying upon Allied shipping, Tucker obtained her share of the submarine hunting the day after assisting in the rescue of Dupetit-Thuoars’ crew, on 8 August. Sighting a U-boat, Tucker sped to the attack, dropping depth bombs on the undersea enemy. The British Admiralty gave credit to Tucker for a “possibly sunk” as a result of the attack. As antisubmarine warfare was in its infancy, however, attempts to verify the “kill” proved to be inconclusive.
On 11 November 1918, the armistice was signed, and hostilities ceased along the war-torn Western Front. As American forces withdrew from Europe and headed home to the United States, Tucker carried passengers and mail between French and British ports. Departing from Brest for the last time on 16 December 1918, she headed for Boston, Mass., and a period of repairs in the navy yard.
In July 1919, she departed Boston and cruised along the coastlines of Massachusetts and Maine, engaged in recruiting duty. In October 1919, she was placed in reserve in Philadelphia, Pa., where she remained until placed out of commission on 16 May 1921. On 17 July 1920, Tucker was designated DD 57.
The prohibition of liquor, instituted by law on 17 January 1920, soon resulted in widespread and blatant smuggling of alcoholic beverages along the coastlines of the United States. The Treasury Department discovered that the Coast Guard simply did not have the ships to constitute a successful patrol. To cope with the problem, President Calvin Coolidge authorized the transfer, in 1924, of 20 old destroyers, then in reserve and out of commission, from the Navy to the Coast Guard.
On 25 March 1926, Tucker was activated and acquired by the Coast Guard, part of a second group of five to augment the original 20. Designated CG-23, she joined the “rum patrol” and chased rumrunners, aiding in the attempt to enforce prohibition laws.
On 4 April 1933, the greatest disaster which aeronautics had experienced up to that time occurred off the New Jersey coast. The airship Akron (ZRS-4) crashed in a storm and carried 73 men to their deaths, including Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Tucker received word of the crash and sped to the scene. Upon arrival, she found that German motorship Phoebus had pulled four men from the sea—one of whom died shortly after being rescued. The survivors were transferred to Tucker and were disembarked at the New York Navy Yard.
After Congress had passed the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to end prohibition, Tucker was returned to the Navy on 30 June 1933. Her name was cancelled on 1 November 1933 to free the name Tucker for DD 374; and, thereafter, the old destroyer was known by her hull designation DD-57. For a time, DD-57 served as a Sea Scout training ship, docked at Sandy Hook, N.J. Struck from the Navy list on 24 October 1936, DD-57 was sold on 10 December 1936 and reduced to a hulk two days before Christmas 1936.