Following his graduation from the Academy, Steele was assigned to the USS Brooklyn on Asiatic Station by choice. He arrived during the Boxer War in China. During this assignment he received a medal for conspicuous service (Record). In June of 1902 Steele was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. Following his commission he joined the USS San Francisco in Norfolk, Virginia (George W. Steele, Jr.). During his service on the San Francisco he took part in the international naval races in Kiel, Germany. Steele won the top prize and was presented with the winner's cup by the Kaiser of Germany. Following this, the San Francisco was ordered to Beirut, where Steele took part in the rescue of the American Consul. After this the San Francisco was transferred to Asiatic Station and Steele was offered command of the destroyer USS Barry. After one year Steele was transferred to the USS Illinois. While on board the Illinois, Steele took part in the Great White Fleet's cruise around the world. Following this, Illinois was moved to Rome. Steele participated in the recovery of bodies after the Messina earthquake. For this Steele received a medal from the Italian government. In 1912, Steele was assigned to the USS California as navigator. California was sent to Nicaragua to restore order. Steele led 400 Marines ashore and rebuilt many roads and bridges within three days. For this he received numerous commendations. When the United States entered World War I, Steele was serving as navigator on board the Battleship USS Pennsylvania (pictured above). He was then transferred to the USS Henderson, where he immediately took command (Record).