The first Narragansett, a 2nd class screw sloop built at the Boston Navy Yard, was launched 15 February 1859 and commissioned 6 November 1859, Comdr. T. A . Hunt in command.
Narragansett operated along the East Coast into the spring of 1860. On 31 March of that year she departed Norfolk, Va., for the Pacific, arriving at Valpariso, Chile, 4 August. Throughout the Civil War she cruised in the Pacific with the primary mission of protecting American mail steamers from Confederate raiders. On 15 December 1864 she departed the Eastern Pacific for the East Coast, arriving New York City 18 March 1865. There she remained in ordinary for several years. Back in full service in 1869, she was ordered south, to cruise off the Cuban and Floridian coasts. With the outbreak of yellow fever in the ship in the late spring, Narragansett was ordered to Portsmouth, N.H., where she decommissioned 2 July 1869.
Inactive for over two years, she again set sail for the Pacific 26 March 1871, arriving at San Francisco 17 September. In December she sailed for the Southwest Pacific and an extended cruise through the Marshalls, Gilberts and Samoan Islands to Australia, arriving at Sydney 2 April 1873. On her return from this cruise, the sloop was assigned special duty in connection with the survey and examination of the steamer routes along the coasts of California and Mexico. Detached from that duty in 1875, she entered the Mare Island shipyard, where she decommissioned and was laid up until 3 November 1883, when she was sold to Wm. E. Mighell of San Francisco.