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Sister ships: WESTFALEN, RHEINLAND, POSEN
Notes: The first German dreadnoughts, this class of four ships were ordered under the 1906-7 and 1907-8 Programs as a response to the British DREADNOUGHT. They were flush-decked ships with low, boxy superstructures and two funnels. To reduce any delay in finishing, no attempt was made to provide turbines; instead, the well-tried three-shaft triple-expansion machinery of the DEUTSCHLAND class was duplicated, but with higher horsepower to offset their greater displacement. All of the ships in the class exceeded their designed speed on trials. The design also set new standards of protection, achieved by greater beam and extensive subdivision of the hull below the waterline (at the cost of limited and cramped accommodations for the crew). The 11" guns were mounted in six twin turrets -- single turrets fore and aft, and four in "wing" positions; this disposition gave a broadside of only eight guns. The layout of the magazines for the 11" guns was noted as being very cramped, especially those for the "wing" turrets. The class was easily identified by their large goose-necked cranes located alongside the aft funnel. Their performance at sea was noted as being "stiff", but they were very maneuverable and had a tight turning circle.
NASSAU was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet as a member of the 2nd Division. She was present at Jutland on 31 May 1916, and fired 106 rounds of 11" and 75 rounds of 5.9" shells at various British ships. NASSAU is credited with an 11" hit on the light cruiser SOUTHAMPTON; the shell did not explode, but the force of contact dented her armor plating and allowed flooding. NASSAU also collided with the British destroyer SPITFIRE; she also hit the SPITFIRE with a single 11" shell, which passed through her second funnel and grazed a boiler without exploding. During the battle, NASSAU took two 6" hits and two 4" hits; 11 of her crew were killed and 16 were wounded. Repairs took slightly over five weeks; subsequently, NASSAU returned to service. During World War I, the 3.45" guns (generally found to be useless) were removed and replaced by four 3.45" (88mm) anti-aircraft guns (circa 1917); following removal of the original 3.45" guns, their positions were plated over.
Following the Armistice at the end of World War I, NASSAU was awarded as a war prize to Japan; however, the Japanese government sold her to a British company for scrap, who in turn sold her to Dutch shipbreakers, and NASSAU was broken up at Dordrecht by the end of 1920.