The large United States Navy build-up prior to World War 1 (1914-1918) involved adoption of a larger fleet of destroyer warships - fast, well-armed vessels capable of operating independently or as part of the main fleet. The Smith-class was drawn up for such a purpose and joined other destroyer classes in strengthening USN firepower prior to the conflict. Five ships ultimately made up the class with USS Preston (DD-19) being the third of the group.
USS Preston was laid down by New York Shipbuilding of Camden, New Jersey, on April 28th, 1908 and launched on July 14th, 1909. She was formally commissioned on December 21st, 1909 and went on to serve the USN prior to, and during, the fighting of World War 1, not decommissioned until July of 1919 along with three of her sisters (USS Smith was not decommissioned until September of that year).
Her profile was recognizable by the four, inline smoke funnels at midships. Her bow had a raised hull line while the rest of the hull utilized an unbroken line running to the stern. The bridge was set well-forward in the design with good views over the bow.
Internally, there were 4 x Mosher coal-fired boilers feeding 3 x Parsons direct-drive steam turbines outputting 10,000 horsepower to 3 x Shafts under stern. Maximum speed could reach 28 knots and the vessel ranged out to 2,800 nautical miles. Aboard was a crew of about 89 made up of officers and enlisted personnel. Armament centered on 5 x 3" (76mm) /50 caliber main guns with 3 x 18" (450mm) torpedo tubes to counter surface threats of the day.
Dimensionally, the warship was given a running length of 293.9 feet with a beam measuring 26.4 feet and a draught down to 10.6 feet. Displacement reached 710 tons under normal loads.
Preston's first assignments were as part of Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet in protecting the vital waterways between America and Europe as well as the American East Coast. When war came to Europe in mid-1914, this role became all-the-more important and convoy duties were an ever-present role. "Neutrality Patrols" were part of the American contribution as a neutral player in the war and involved ship and air patrols of the Atlantic coastline as well as Caribbean waters. When American joined the war in April of 1917, all that changed.
Patrols and escort duties then followed the ship and her crews. From August until October of 1917 she was assigned to waters off of the Azores before heading over to the French coastline near the vital post city of Brest. At this station she remained until the end of the war in November of 1918. That December she was recalled to American waters and arrived at Charleston, South Carolina on January 4th, 1919.
With her services no longer needed in war, she was decommissioned on July 17th, 1919 once relocating to New York waters. Her name was struck from the Naval Register on September 15th of that year and her hulk was sold for scrapping that November.