The first Chester (CL-1) was launched 26 June 1907 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, sponsored by Miss D. W. Sproul; and commissioned 25 April 1908, Commander H. B. Wilson in command.
In the period prior to World War I, Chester's operations included training activities off the east coast and in the Caribbean, participation in the Fleet Reviews of February 1909, October 1912, and May 1915, and many duties of a diplomatic nature. She carried a Congressional committee on a tour of North Africa in 1909, and the next year joined in a special South American cruise commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Buenos Aires, Argentina. As American interests in the Caribbean were threatened by internal political troubles in several nations, Chester patrolled off Mexico, Santa Domingo, and Haiti, and transported Marine occupation forces in 1911. Later that year she carried men and stores to Scorpion, station ship at the then-Austrian port of Trieste, returning to Boston with the American consul at Tripoli.
After a period in reserve from 15 December 1911 to 5 November 1913, Chester returned to duty in the Gulf of Mexico guarding American citizens and property during the revolution in Mexico. She joined in the occupation of the customs house at Vera Cruz 21 April, and transported refugees to Cuba, performed various diplomatic missions, and carried mail and stores to the squadron off Vera Cruz until 19 June 1914. She returned to Boston for overhaul and another period in reserve, from 12 December 1914 to 4 April 1915.
Late 1915 and early 1916 found Chester in the Mediterranean to aid in relief work in the Middle East, and off the Liberian coast to protect American interests and show American support for the government there, threatened by insurrection. Chester returned for duty as receiving ship at Boston, where she was out of commission in reserve from 10 May 1916 to 24 March 1917.
When recommissioned, Chester operated on protective patrol off the east coast until 23 August 1917, when she sailed for Gibraltar, and duty escorting convoys on their passage between Gibraltar and Plymouth, England. On 5 September 1918, the cruiser sighted an enemy submarine on her starboard bow. In attempting to ram the enemy, Chester passed directly over the U-boat as it dove, damaging her own port paravane. Depth charges were hurled at the submarine's presumed position, but no further contact was made.
At war's end, Chester carried several Allied armistice commissions on inspection tours of German ports, then carried troops to the Army units operating in northern Russia. On her homeward bound voyage, on which she cleared Brest, France 26 April 1919, she carried Army veterans to New York, which she reached 7 May. Eleven days later she arrived at Boston Navy Yard for overhaul, and was decommissioned there 10 June 1921. In 1927 she was towed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, and on 10 July 1928, her name was changed to York. She was sold for scrap 13 May 1930.
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