The first Corsair retained the name she carried at the time of her acquisition by the Navy; the second Corsair was named for a fish.
(S. P. 159: displacement 1,600; length 304'; beam 33'4"; draft 16'; speed 19 knots; complement 123; armament 4 3-inch, 2 machine guns)
The first Corsair (S. P. 159) was built in 1899 at Hoboken, N.J., by W. & A. Fletcher Co.; chartered by the Navy on 15 May 1917 from her owner, financier J. Pierpont Morgan; and commissioned the same day, Lt. Cmdr. T. A. Kittinger in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Corsair sailed from New York on 14 June 1917 with the first contingent of the American Expeditionary Force to France, arriving at St. Nazaire on 27 June. On 2 July she stood out to join the U.S. Patrol Squadrons operating against enemy submarines and performing escort and patrol duties off the west coast of France. She crossed the war zone many times on convoy escort, and rescued survivors of torpedoed vessels. On 17 October 1917, she assisted the torpedoed U.S. Army Transport Antilles, picked up many of her survivors, and searched for the submarine that had attacked her. On 22 June 1918, she rescued the survivors of Californian, which had struck a mine, and adding to her outstanding rescue record, between 12 and 14 September, towed the disabled Norwegian steamer Dagfin into Verdon.
Corsair cleared Brest on 18 November 1918, for operations in British waters, calling at Rosyth, Scotland, and Queenstown, Ireland, serving from time to time as flagship for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in European Waters. She put in to Plymouth on 7 May 1919 to embark Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and his staff for transportation to Brest, sailing with them on 8 May and arriving the same day. The dignitaries disembarked on 9 May.
Corsair sailed for New York on 10 May 1919. Proceeding by way of the Azores and Bermuda, she arrived at her destination on 28 May.
Corsair was returned to her owner on 9 June 1919.