In the years after the French/German war of 1870/71, the German navy was looking for ships that could be used to protect the growing numbers of overseas colonies. The existing gunboats were not very useful for this, outgunned by foreign vessels, too small to store the nescessary amount of coal and not seaworth enough to operate on oceans far away from the costal waters of Germany or the North Sea.
Therefore a new class of ships was ordered, the Kreuzer IV. Class of the Bussard
class. Not build after the requirements of naval fleet battles, but specially designed ships for overseas duty. Beside their huge coal capacity, they were equipped with sails to assist the steam engines. Quite unusual for its time, the cruisers were equipped with an electrical system and a huge flashlight on top of the command bridge.
The ships were said to be good seagoing vessels, but because of their gun mountings besides the hull, they lost speed in higher seas.
was the third ship of this class. Originally named Kaiseradler
, the cruiser was renamed Seeadler
when the new Imperial yacht was given the former name. After its commissioning, the Seeadler
operated 13,5 years in overseas territorys, in Africa and South-Eas Asia. This was the longest time for a German warship operating outside of Germany. After its return to Germany in early 1914, the Seeadler
was not used for active duty anymore, instead it was used as a mine hulk in Wilhlemshaven. There, it was destroyed when its mine payload exploded on 19.04.1917.