class was part of the major German fleet building program that started in the final years of the 19th century. Being very similar in armament and armor protection to their predecessors, the Kaiser Friedrich
class, those ships and their successors formed the core of the german battle fleet until the arrival of the first modern battleships, the Nassau
class in 1909.
The very maneuverable ships were already outdated at the outbreak of World War I and were activly used only in the first years. Until 1916, all five were used for fleet services, Schwaben
was mainly used as artillery training ship up to 1911 when the Wettin
took over this role until 1914. In 1916, all of them were removed from active fleet service.
were then used as fleet tenders until 1919 when they were converted into mother ships for small fast attack boats, able to carry 12 of them. After only two years in this role, they were broken down. Wettin
was also used as a fleet tender form 1916 on and scrapped in 1922.