At the time of 1880, the German Navy was looking for replacements of their old corvettes, still equipped with sails and auxiliary steam engines. As it was unsure which kind of ships were required to take over the tasks of those sailing ships, the development was split into two branches, smaller ships, the so called "Aviso" and larger ones, lightly armored cruisers.
The Kreuzerkorvette Gefion
was the result of a ship of the second branch. It was build to fulfill three tasks, as a reconnaissance ship for larger units, to be used for overseas services and for commerce war.
Equipped with ten 10,5 cm guns, the ship had a remarkable operational radius of 6500 miles at 10 knots - no other contemporary ship of the German navy had a range like this, so it is not surprising that the ship spend several years as a part of the South East Asian squadron.
Although the Gefion
was decommissioned in 1901, it was still held in reserve at the outbreak of World War I, but due to the lack of personal, it was put into active service again. In 1920 it was converted into a merchant transport, but only three years later it was scrapped.