In the 1880s, the German Navy ordered several different torpedoboats from different shipyards which were all based on different designs. The idea was to test the various designs to find out which kind of boat would be best to use for this new weapon. The tests showed that the boats designed by the Schichau shipyard in Elbing had the best potential for further development, therefore the Schichau design was chosen as the prototype for torpedo boat development in Germany.
The first large class of torpedo boats were those of the Torpedoboot Design 1885. Being equipped with three torpedo tubes and only two
revolver cannons, they were designed to make fast attacks with their torpedoes and try to disappear after that, their capability to defend themselves against other ships was very limited. To improve this, the later boats of this class were equipped with a 5 cm gun instead of the revolver cannons.
With the introduction of newer, more modern torpedo boats, the boats of the Torpedoboot 1885 were reclassified to mine hunters in 1910. Most of their armament was removed and the boats were equipped with mine hunting equipment.
During World War I, the boats saw many actions as mine hunters and it is no surprise that several of them got lost because of mine hits, especially in the Baltic Sea where their main operational area was. Some boats were later used as fleet tenders and those that survived the war were scrapped around 1920.