Used as a copra trader ship in the Pacific. During April 1917, the ship was at port at Honolulu when the United States entered World War I and the ship was seized by the US Navy and commissioned as USS Hermes on April 1, 1918 with Lt. John T. Diggs as captain.
Originally intended as a submarine patrol vessel, Hermes performed this duty out of Honolulu during the summer of 1918. On 31 August she sailed on a cruise among the islands northwest of Hawaii, including Laysan and Wake, to search for survivors of shipwrecks, signs of enemy activity, and to conduct a survey on wildlife and birds for the US Biological Survey Commission. Decommissioned on January 16, 1919 and placed at the disposal of the Hawaiian territorial government for use as a tender to leper colonies. When the territorial government decided they could not afford her upkeep, Hermes was turned over to the Pacific Air Detachment, whom she served as a store ship and general auxiliary craft.
Sold on October 21, 1926 to the Lanikai Fish Company and renamed USS Lanikai. Next sold during 1929 to the Hawaiian Sea Products Company. Laid up in 1931 and sold in 1933 to Northrup Castle of Honolulu. Then sold in 1936 to Harry W. Crosby of Seattle, Washington. In 1937 she was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios (MGM Studios) for use in making the film The Hurricane, starring Jon Hall and Dorothy Lamour. Following completion of the film she was used as the MGM yacht until sold on April 6, 1939 to E. M. Grim of Luzon Stevedoring Company, Manila, Philippines and departed for the Philippines.
The schooner patrolled approaches to Manila Bay and served as a dispatch vessel within the harbor and survived the Japanese air raid on Cavite on December 10. On Christmas Day, she assisted in the evacuation of Manila, carrying Army Officers and equipment to Corregidor. Hastily armed, the ship had two 30 caliber machine guns and a Spanish-American war era 3 pound gun mounted.
Manned by a crew of 18, plus twelve Filipinos:
On December 26, Lanikai attempt to escape the Philippines carrying one Dutch and three American officers, Departed Mariveles Harbor, hiding in friendly coves during day and traveling at night. On February 3, 1942 off Surabaya, Java three Japanese aircraft bombs straddled the schooner. On 1 March, about 200 miles east of Christmas Island, a Japanese task force was sighted and evasive action was successful. On March, 18 after 82 days, Lanikai arrived at Fremantle.
After replenishment and repairs, she departed on April 4, to cruise along the northwest Australian and search for possible Japanese coast watchers. Lt. Comdr. Adair relieved Lt Comdr. Tolley of command of the vessel on 27 April and continued the search into mid-May. Lanikai was decommissioned at Fremantle on August 22, and transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, and renamed HMAS Lanikai. For the rest of the war, the ship helped maintain harbor defense.