The first Beale (Destroyer No. 40) was laid down on 8 May 1911 at Philadelphia by William Cramp & Sons; launched on 30 April 1912; sponsored by Mrs. Emily Beale McLean, the daughter of Lt. Beale; and commissioned on 30 August 1912, Lt.(jg.) Charles T. Blackburn in command.
The destroyer became a unit of the 5th Group, Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet and conducted operations along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies—including a month's duty in Mexican waters, from 22 April to 27 May 1914, during the American occupation of Veracruz after the Tampico incident—until placed in reserve on 13 December 1915. On 5 January 1916, she was brought back to active duty with an under-strength crew and began neutrality patrol duty in a reduced commission status. On 22 March 1917, two weeks and a day before the United States entered World War I, the warship was returned to full commission and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Force.
Beale continued patrolling American waters until sailing for Europe on 9 January 1918. Delayed by an extended stop in the Azores, she reached St. Nazaire, France, on 3 February and continued on to her permanent duty station, Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. The destroyer arrived there on 5 February and began her first patrol five days later. On 27 February, while escorting SS Kenmore to Liverpool, she sighted an object low in the water which she thought to be a submarine. As Beale charged to attack, the object submerged. The destroyer dropped a depth charge at the point at which the object disappeared, and soon oil rose to the surface. Beale probably at least damaged a submarine; but, to what extent, no one knows. Her only other scrape with a U boat came on 19 May when Patterson (Destroyer No. 36) reported attacking a submarine. Beale joined in the search conducted by Patterson, Allen (Destroyer No. 66), Burrows (Destroyer No. 29), two British destroyers, and two airships. Once again a large amount of oil appeared on the surface suggesting damage to a U boat.
The destroyer continued convoy escort and antisubmarine patrol missions out of Queenstown through the end of World War I and returned to the United States in December 1918 for duty along the Atlantic coast. She was decommissioned on 25 October 1919 and placed in reserve at Philadelphia. Reactivated in 1924, she was transferred to the Coast Guard on 28 April 1924 and spent six years and six months on the so-called "Rum Patrol" trying to prevent smugglers from bringing alcoholic beverages into the United States. Beale was returned to the Navy on 18 October 1930 and was laid up again at Philadelphia with the Reserve Fleet. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 5 July 1934, and she was sold on 22 August 1934 for scrapping.
See also Beale-II.