With their size of over 5000 ts, the three fleet tenders of the Wilhelm Bauer
class were the largest ships of their kind in the German Kriegsmarine. In 1936 a class of eight new large escorts ships was planned to support the growing U-Boat fleet. Four of those ships were started to build at the Kriegsmarine Shipyard in Kiel, but only three of them were completed.
The first, Wilhelm Bauer
, was laid down in August 1937, launched in December 1938 and commisioned in April 1940. In April 1945, the ships was sunk by bombs in shallow water.