The newly arrived airship, the USS Los Angeles, was much heralded and its crew was treated like heroes upon arrival. There was a large parade in New York City and the President received them at the White House. ZR-3 was readied for her first official flight in the United States Navy in November. This flight took place on 25 November 1924. She was flown to Anacostia Naval Air Station near Washington for commissioning into the United States Navy. Steele was on board, but he was ill and contributed little to the voyage. ZR-3 arrived in Anacostia to be christened later that day. Mrs. Calvin Coolidge christened the ship USS Los Angeles and presented her to Captain Steele for command. President Coolidge came aboard for a party and official tour (Althoff 55-57). Los Angeles was christened with a bottle of water from the River Jordan, since prohibition of alcohol prevented the use of the much more appropriate champagne. President Coolidge's tour was the first and only time a United States President came aboard an airship. Immediately after the President's departure, Commander Jacob Klein relieved Steele of command due to Steele's illness . The Los Angeles then hastily returned to Lakehurst (Keller and Robinson 140).
Captain Steele continued his command of Los Angeles during its deployment to Puerto Rico in April of 1925. He remained in his cabin for much of the trip owing to illness. During this deployment Los Angeles and Patoka continued exercises. Once the tail fin of Los Angeles tilted dangerously and hit the water. On May 8, Los Angeles began her trip back to Lakehurst. The Puerto Rico deployment marked the first time Patoka had been used as a mobile airship base. The Bureau of Airships planned to have enough helium to operate both USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) and USS Los Angeles by August 1, 1925. In the meantime, the Los Angeles was to make local passenger flights and travel to Annapolis for "June Week." Los Angeles made three flights with distinguished guests. She returned from her flights on June 3 and Captain Steele received orders to fly to Minneapolis via Dearborn, Michigan. Steele was uncomfortable with the notion of flying over the Midwest in early summer and he let his reservations be known. Nevertheless, Los Angeles departed Lakehurst on June 7. Nine hours after departure engine #5 had to be shut down with a burned-out connecting rod bearing. Steele became concerned about the other engines due to their extensive flight time. He continued on to Cleveland then decided to turn back for Lakehurst. Los Angeles returned to Lakehurst on the morning of May 8. Captain Steele felt that his ship could not fly again without an overhaul (Keller and Robinson 143-45).