SMS Cormoran was an unprotected cruiser of the Kaiserliche Marine launched on 17 May 1892 and commissioned on 25 July 1893.
In September 1895, SMS Cormoran began service in the South Pacific. She would participate in the seizure of Kiautschou in 1897 and the Philippine Crisis of 1898, and remain assigned to the Ostasiatische Station until 1902. From 1902-1909, she served in German home waters and spent a lengthy period in dockyard for a major refit.
Following the refit, she resumed service at Ostasiatische Station in 1909. In 1914, while she was in dockyard in Tsingtau for repairs, World War I broke out. As she was not fit to fight at that point, she was decommissioned, and her crew was used to man the captured steamer Ryazan, which was converted into the auxiliary cruiser Cormoran.