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Notes: HELGOLAND was the lead ship of the class, ordered in the 1908-09 Program. The class was a marked improvement on the preceding NASSAU -- nearly 20% larger, with corresponding improvements in armor. The main battery guns were increased in size to 12" (30.5cm), and magazines and shell rooms were located directly below the turrets. The three funnels were closely spaced amidships, which outwardly distinguished them from the NASSAU class. Each ship slightly exceeded designed speed on trials. They were noted as being good sea boats, with a small turning circle. HELGOLAND had her funnels raised in 1915. She was fitted with torpedo nets; these were removed early in 1916. The 3.45" guns proved to a disappointment; not only were they generally mounted in unworkable positions, but their "hitting power" proved to be too light against their intended targets. The aftermost pair were removed in 1913, and the remainder in 1916-17. They were replaced by four 3.45" (88mm) anti-aircraft guns, mounted on the aft superstructure.
HELGOLAND was commissioned into the German Navy as a member of the 1st Battle Division (along with her sister ships). She was present at Jutland on 31 May 1916, and was hit once by a British 15" shell (probably from VALIANT) but suffered no casualties. In return, she fired 63 rounds from her 12" guns and 61 rounds from her 5.9" guns; it is unclear if any hits were obtained. At one point, HELGOLAND was one of at least six German battleships firing at the British battleship WARSPITE; during that action, WARSPITE took 13 heavy-caliber shell hits, but it is nearly impossible to credit any particular ship with specific hits. HELGOLAND then joined in with seven other battleships in firing on the destroyer NESTOR (which had been disabled in an earlier action); NESTOR blew up and sank (80 of her crew were rescued by German destroyers and became prisoners of war.) Upon return to port, repairs on HELGOLAND took less than two weeks.
Following World War I, HELGOLAND was allowed to be kept by the German Navy. However, when the majority of the High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow on 21 June, 1919, she was handed over to the British as a replacement. Following various tests by the British, HELGOLAND was scrapped at Morecambe in 1921. Her bow coat of arms in on display at the Dresden Army Museum in Germany.