The five battleships of the Kaiser Friedrich III
class were part of the 1897 naval construction program. With those ships, a new layout for German battleships was introduced which got characterisical for all German battleships.
Unlike their predecessors of the Brandenburg class, the Kaiser Friedrich
class was only equipped with 24 cm guns, but the number of secondary guns was more than doubled. They were the first German battleships with three shafts, a characteristic feature that was kept for most German capital ships. In difference to many other German ships, they took not over much water in heavy seas and they were reported to be very good seagoing ships.
All five ships were used for fleet service until 1916, followed by a three year duty as harbor ships before they were decommissioned.
After its fleet service, the Kaiser Karl der Große
was used as a prison ship in Wilhelmshaven. In 1920 it were broken down in Rönnebeck.