The turn of the 19th
century was marked with tremendous development in technology, metallurgy
and manufacturing methods. The change had also a great impact on the
shipbuilding industry. Technological contest included armor, caliber,
variety of guns, propulsion, and utilization of technical innovations.
As a result, the suitability of newly built warships was very often
illusive and short-term. The dreadnought
Oldenburg was a good example.
In 1881, the core of German flotilla
consisted of four SACHSEN Class dreadnoughts,
commissioned over the years 1878 to 1883. They had been built at German shipyards
in accordance with the flotilla foundation plan developed in 1873 by then the head
of admiralty, Lieutenant General Albrecht von Stosch, and joined the remaining
older warships of PRUSSIA
and KAISER Class:
KÖNIG WILHELM, HANSA, FRIEDRICH
CARL, and KRONPRINZ. Furthermore, the von Stosch’s plan provided for
the construction of two new vessels. One of those vessels was to replace the
dreadnought PRINZ ADALBERT decommissioned in 1871; the other was to be the next
armored corvette to increase the flotilla size. In the fiscal year 1879/1880, the
Reichstag put the desideration forward for approval and it was rejected.
In 1881, the admiralty again submitted a motion to replace
PRINZ ADALBERT and to build a new
"E" corvette. However, the admiralty’s representatives again failed to force their plans
in full. The Reichstag did not accept the plan to build a replacement vessel, and only
limited financial resources were granted for the construction of “E” armored corvette,
later known as OLDENBURG.
Although in the
projects developed during 1879-1881, it was envisaged that a new vessel
would be of a Sachsen Class, the missing three million
Reichsmarks brought about probably the most unsuccessful vessel of the
Despite the fact that the Oldenburg
had artillery advantage over
vessels, she failed to produce the planned effect. Due to her low speed,
she was often an obstruction for accompanying squadrons instead of
intended reinforcement that had been hoped for when giving acceptance to
build the vessel.