She is a 3,600-tonne (3,500-long-ton) ship, 118 m (387 ft) in overall length, 4.8 m (49 ft) across the beam and had a draught of 4.35 m (14.3 ft) at full load. She is capable of a 27-knot (50 km/h; 31 mph) top speed, and a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Her hull and superstructure are of all-steel construction, and the ships are fitted with fin stabilisers.
Sensors and Decoys:
Sonars : Thomson Sintra Spherion B Mod 5; hull-mounted; active search and attack; medium frequency, and with provision for a towed array.
Air search radar: Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V)8 ANZ (C/D-band)
Search radar: CEA Technologies CEAFAR Active Phased Array Radar (S Band)
Navigation: Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye (I-band) Passive Detection: Sagem Vampir NG Infrared Search/track
Target Illumination Radar: CEA Technologies CEAMOUNT Active Phased Array Illuminator (X Band)
Combat data systems: Saab 9LV 453 Mk 3E.Link 11& Link16
Weapons control: Saab 9LV 453 radar/optronic director with CEA Solid State Continuous Wave Illuminator
Electronic warfare and decoys: Racal modified Sceptre A (radar intercept), Telefunken PST-1720 Telegon 10 (comms intercept), G & D Aircraft SRBOC Mk 36 Mod 1 decoy launchers for SRBOC, BAE Systems Nulka active missile decoy.
Guns: 1 × 5 in/54 (127 mm) Mk 45 Mod 2 gun, 2 × Rafael Mini Typhoon 12.7mm (.50 cal) CIWS, small arms,
Missiles: 2 × 4 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles, Mk 41 Mod 5 VLS for Sea Sparrow and Evolved Sea Sparrow
Torpedoes: 2 × triple 324 mm Mk 32 Mod 5 tubes with MU 90 Torpedo
Aircraft carried:1 × SH-60 Seahawk
In March 2006, Ballarat was deployed to the Persian Gulf to relieve HMAS Parramatta as part of Operation Catalyst, the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq.
In December 2006 a request by members of the ship's company led to a re-launching of Ballarat Bitter, a beer originally brewed in Ballarat but stopped in 1989. Proceeds from the sale of the two limited releases were donated to the United Way charities. The brand's mascot, Ballarat Bertie, has been adopted by the ship as a mascot.
On the morning of 13 March 2009, Ballarat was one of seventeen warships involved in a ceremonial fleet entry and fleet review in Sydney Harbour, the largest collection of RAN ships since the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. The frigate was one of the thirteen ships involved in the ceremonial entry through Sydney Heads, and anchored in the harbour for the review.
On 20 April 2009,Ballarat and the Adelaide-class frigate HMAS Sydney departed from Sydney as part of Operation Northern Trident, a six-month round-the-world voyage by the two vessels, with numerous diplomatic visits and joint exercises with foreign navies. During the night of 17 May, Ballarat and Sydney provided aid to two merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, driving off two separate groups of Somali pirates attacking the ships. Ballarat escorted an impromptu convoy of eight ships, including the two that were attacked, to safety, while Sydney remained in the area to report the incidents to Combined Task Force 151.