With the Fürst Bismarck
, a new step in armored cruiser design (official designation was "Großer Kreuzer") was made. Better protected than its predecessors and much heavier armed, it was planned as a prototype for a new generation of armored cruisers capable for reconnaissance operations and overseas duties. Unlike all cruisers classes before only a single ships of this class was build, it was meant as a operational testbed to find out problems and capabilities of this new design and to used this information to build other, more advanced ships.
The ship had excellent seagoing capabilities and was very maneuverable, but it tended for vibrations at higher speeds.
almost all of its operational career in the East-Asian Squadron where it was stationed for nine years. Like all other armored cruisers, it was reactivated at the outbreak of World War I , but soon put into auxiliary services only. It was scrapped after the war.