The great success of offensive mine operations in the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905, caused huge interest in mine warfare (and its counter measures) in most european countries. As a result, the Hochseeflotte ordered two special build mine layers - the official designation was "Minendampfer" - to replace the existing minelayers which were converted from other ships.
Although the two ordered ships were originally planned to be both of the same class, they differed so much that they could be seen as different ship classes. The first build Nautilus
had the typical appearance of a yacht, while the half-sister Albatross
looked more like a small cruiser.
Despite their later designation as a mine cruiser, the weak 8,8 cm guns as main artillery made those ships no real match for a real small cruiser. The maneuverable ships proved to be very sensitive to wind, especially at low speeds.
was laid down after some first experience with her half-sister was made, therefore several modifications were made which lead to complete different outer appearance. Like the Nautilus
, the ships was first used in the mine training school and laid several mine fields during the war. After an engagement with a superior Russian cruiser force, the ship was beached in Swedish waters and returned to Germany after the war where it was scrapped.