After trials off the upper East Coast, Winslow joined the 6th Division, Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla. The destroyer participated in maneuvers in Cuban waters during the winter of 1915 and 1916 and, in the spring, began operations along the eastern seaboard. By October 1916, she was serving in coastal waters near Newport, Rhode Island. During that assignment, the destroyer rendered assistance to the crews of Allied ships captured and sunk by the German submarine U-53. At the end of the month, the warship went into the New York Navy Yard and remained there through the end of the year.
In January 1917, Winslow steamed south to Cuba, where she joined the rest of the Fleet to participate in annual winter maneuvers. Following the Fleet exercise, she returned north to the Chesapeake.
When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, Winslow was riding at anchor in the York River near Yorktown, Virginia. She had been there to guard the river mouth since February, when American relations with Germany began to deteriorate as a result of the latter country’s return to unrestricted submarine warfare. Soon after Congress declared war, Winslow moved north to the New York Navy Yard to prepare for duty overseas. Less than a month later, she moved to Boston, from where she got underway for Europe on 7 May with five other destroyers. After a 10-day passage, Winslow reported for duty at Queenstown, Ireland, on the 17th. On the 21st, she began patrolling the approaches to the British Isles.
Winslow operated out of Queenstown for almost a year in a campaign to defend Allied supply ships against Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare. She escorted convoys into and out of Queenstown and went to the assistance of ships attacked by U-boats. Just after midnight on 11 June, she spied her first submarine and rushed to the attack. Her target submerged, and the destroyer dropped a series of depth charges. She failed, however, to find any evidence supporting the success of her attack and resumed her patrol.
On 30 July, Winslow picked up the captain and 12 crewmen from the torpedoed SS Whitehall and brought them safely into Queenstown. She sighted another U-boat off Queenstown on 16 August, but heavy weather covered the submarine’s tracks when it submerged and Winslow made no attack. Six weeks later, on 24 September, the warship rushed to the assistance of an American schooner, Henry Lippett, which was being shelled by another submarine. When the destroyer reached the little sailing vessel, she was in flames and the U-boat had just submerged. Winslow delivered a desultory depth charge barrage on what appeared to be the submarine’s moving wake and then broke off the attack to assist the schooner’s crew.
During the remainder of her assignment at Queenstown, Winslow attacked two more submarines, the first on 11 October 1917 and the second on 3 January 1918. In both cases, she depth charged oil slicks which appeared to originate from damaged submerged U-boats. In neither case did she receive visible confirmation of a sinking. During the 3 January attack, however, one of her depth charges threw a large mass of dark liquid high in the air. From this description, it appears that her depth charge brought up fuel oil from what was believed to be U-61. Unfortunately for Winslow, lack of more definite proof of this premise precludes crediting her with a sinking.
At the beginning of April 1918, Winslow was reassigned to the United States Naval Forces in France. Operating from Brest, she spent the remainder of the war shepherding American troop transports into French ports. Although the destroyer engaged the enemy on at least seven different occasions, in no instance did she score a confirmed sinking. On 8 August, she helped rescue survivors from Westward Ho, sunk the preceding day by a submarine. On 5 September, she attacked the submarine that had just torpedoed Mount Vernon but her depth charges—like those of Conner (Destroyer No. 72), Nicholson (Destroyer No. 52) and Wainwright (Destroyer No. 62)—failed to shorten the career of U-82. Winslow’s final action of the war came slightly over a fortnight later when she depth-bombed a U-boat that attacked the convoy in her care. As in all previous cases, proof of a certain kill eluded her.
Winslow continued her patrols out of Brest through the end of hostilities on 11 November. After the Armistice, she continued to operate in French waters and served as one of the escorts for George Washington when that ship brought President Woodrow Wilson into the harbor on 13 December. Fifteen days later, the warship departed France to return to the United States. She reached New York on 12 January 1919 and resumed peacetime duty with the Atlantic Fleet.
During May 1919, Winslow served as one of the rescue pickets stationed along the route across the Atlantic flown by three Navy NC-type seaplanes. After that, the destroyer returned to normal operations along the East Coast and annual winter maneuvers in Cuban waters until placed in reduced commission at Philadelphia on 10 December 1919.
In June 1921, Winslow returned to active duty along the East Coast until the following March. She was placed out of commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 5 June 1922. In July 1933, her name was dropped, and she was known only by the hull number assigned her in July 1920, DD 53. She was finally struck from the Navy list on 7 January 1936, and she was sold for scrapping the following June.