As designed, the ship had a full load displacement of 3,605 tons, a length overall of 135.6 metres (445 ft), a beam of 13.7 metres (45 ft), and a draught of 24.5 metres (80 ft).
Armament - Canberra's main weapon was the Mark 13 missile launcher located on the foredeck: this is used to fire both Harpoon and SM-2MR Standard missiles. A 76-millimetre (3.0 in) Mark 75 OTO Melara gun is located on top of the superstructure, in front of the exhaust funnel. A triple-barrelled Mark 32 torpedo tube set is fitted to each side of the superstructure. For close defence, a 20-millimetre (0.79 in) Mark 16 Mod 2 Phalanx CIWS sits at the aft end of the superstructure, above the frigate's two helicopter hangars.
The hangars housed two S-70B Seahawk helicopters.
Operational history - After commissioning, Canberra and Adelaide remained in the United States to work up; during this time both ships were attached to the United States Navy's Destroyer Squadron 9.
Canberra was assigned as escort to the Royal Yacht Britannia during Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Australia during April and May 1988, as part of the Australian Bicentennary celebrations.
On 16 May 1990, Canberra was one of six Australian warships, and one of 64 naval vessels from 21 nations present at the Royal Fleet Review marking the 55th anniversary of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
Canberra was deployed to the Red Sea from 13 November 1992 to 12 March 1993 following the Gulf War, as part of the enforcement of the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq.
Following this, the two ships sailed for New Zealand, and were present in the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day, which commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi there on 6 February 1840, which brought New Zealand into the British Empire.
The frigate's home base was changed from Fleet Base East in New South Wales to Fleet Base West in Western Australia in February 1996.
On 17 May 1998, the frigate was one of four RAN ships placed on standby to help evacuate Australian citizens from Indonesia following riots. Canberra made at least one evacuation before the force was instructed to stand down a week later.
Following the conclusion of the Solomon Islands Civil War in 2000, Canberra was the last Australian warship sent to the Solomons to support the International Peace Monitoring Team; arriving on 13 September 2001, and remaining on station until 24 October.
Later in the year, Canberra joined sister ship Newcastle and the amphibious warfare ship Manoora on a three-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of the International Coalition Against Terrorism.
In July 2003, while operating in northern Australian waters, Canberra intercepted Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) 13, the first SIEV to be intercepted since December 2001.
Canberra was the first ship of her class to be decommissioned; this occurred at Fleet Base West in Western Australia on 12 November 2005.
Battle honours - Canberra earned one battle honour, Persian Gulf 2002 for her service during the war in Afghanistan, plus, she had four inherited battle honours.
Dive wreck - In October 2006, it was announced that the decommissioned frigate would be scuttled off the coast of Barwon Heads, Victoria as a wreck diving site. In October 2006, the Federal Government allocated A$2.8 million to the project, while the Victorian Government allocated A$500,000. On 23 July 2007, the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, announced that in order to ensure the quickest possible schedule for the sinking of the ship, A$7 million of federal money would be allocated to the project.
The frigate was scheduled to be scuttled in 30 metres (98ft) of water, 2 nautical miles (3.7km) off Ocean Grove, Victoria on 13 September 2009, but this was postponed until 4 October because of foul weather. Sixteen scuttling charges were detonated at 1400 hours, following a six-hour delay in towing the ship into position.
Canberra was inspected the next day by civilian clearance divers to ensure she had settled safely. The wreck was opened to the public as a dive site on 5 December, after four mooring pylons for dive boats were installed and safety checks and remedial work were carried out.
In early 2011, Parks Victoria posted a warning that the port side of the hangar had separated from the rest of the superstructure, with frames and plating shifting up to 150 millimetres (5.9in). In mid-2011, Parks Victoria closed the dive site due to safety concerns following further degradation of the frigate. After assessment, the site was reopened on 24 October 2011.