At the beginning of the 20th century, the German Imperial Navy was in the process of enlarging its fleet with a great number of ships, which were all modern to that days technical standard. But with the introduction of the "All-big-gun-battleship", the British Dreadnought
, even the newest ship got obsolete from on day to another, since the steam turbine powered, one caliber battleships was one step ahead of the common multiple caliber warships.
As a reaction to this, the latest German battleships under development - a 14000 t ship with 30,5 cm an 24 cm guns - was modified to match the new British design. enlarged ot 19000 t with twelve 28 cm guns mounted in "Hexagonal" positions, but still with expansion engines instead of turbines, the Nassau
class was the first class of "All-big-gun-battleships" of the Imperial Navy.
Although they seemed to be a bit more conservative than contemporary British deigns, they had a much better internal protection, giving the ships a much better chance to survive even heavy damage as it was proven in several occasions.
All four ships of this class were part of the 1st Battleship Squadron and shared a quite similar operational live. All took part in the battle of Jutland and besides the Rheinland
, which run aground in 1918 and was very difficult to get afloat again, the other ships were taken over by other countries after the war and scrapped in the early 1920s.