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.
After her upgrade, her sensors and processing systems included Thomson Sintra Spherion B Mod 5; hull-mounted; active search and attack; medium frequency sensors. 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). Her combat data systems include the Saab 9LV 453 Mk 3E. Link 11& Link16; and weapons control: Saab 9LV 453 radar/optronic director with CEA Solid State Continuous Wave Illuminator. She also has provision for towed array. Air search radar: Raytheon AN/SPS-49(V)8 ANZ (C/D-band)
Her electronic warfare and decoys consist of Racal modified Sceptre A (radar intercept), and Telefunken PST-1720 Telegon 10 (comms intercept); while her countermeasures include G & D Aircraft SRBOC, (Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures), and Mk 36 Mod 1 decoy launchers for SRBOC, plus a BAE Systems Nulka active missile decoy.
She also carries one SH-60 Seahawk helicopter.
Stuart is the last ship of the Anzac class to undergo the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade included above. For more details on the Anzac Class Frigates design and construction, see the page entitled Anzac Class Frigates in the Frigates Index page.
Stuart was deployed to board and capture the merchantman after scrounging sailors from other ships to make up for those on leave for the Easter weekend, embarking a Seahawk helicopter, and taking onboard special forces personnel from the Special Air Service Regiment and the Clearance Diving Team. Accompanied by two police launches, Stuart intercepted Pong Su 90 nautical miles (170km; 100mi) off Sydney on 20 April. The special forces successfully boarded the ship, and she was sailed to Sydney by a RAN steaming party.
In 2004, Stuart was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Catalyst. On 24 April, Stuart, the patrol boat USS Firebolt, and the cruiser USSYorktown were patrolling around the Al Başrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) and Khor Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT), with Stuart's commanding officer in tactical control of the two American warships.
Around 19:00, a dhow sailed into the KAAOT security zone. Firebolt sent a RHIB to board the dhow and order the vessel away, but as the RHIB drew alongside, the dhow exploded. Stuart, 4.1 nautical miles (7.6km; 4.7mi) away, began sailing to assist, while the Australian ship's S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, 6 nautical miles (11km; 6.9mi) away diverted to the explosion site.
The Seahawk and a RHIB from Stuart began assisting survivors from Firebolt's boarding party; but after experiencing difficulty in handling the injured Americans, the Seahawk's sensor operator dived into the water to assist. Casualties were brought aboard Firebolt, then transferred by helicopter and boat to Stuart.
Meanwhile, two more dhows attempted to attack ABOT. The explosion of the first dhow was the prelude to a coordinated attack on the oil terminal, but were fended off by the facility's Iraqi security team and detonated before reaching their targets. Three of the seven personnel aboard Firebolt's RHIB were killed, and the other four were seriously injured.
The Seahawk's sensor operator was later awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions during the incident.
In February 2006, fire broke out about HMNZS Te Mana, Stuart's sister ship, during an exercise off the coast of Australia. Te Mana's Seasprite helicopter was diverted to Stuart, while the fire was put out by the crew.
On the morning of 13 March 2009, Stuart 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 22 March 2011, while operating off Somalia as part of Combined Task Force 151, Stuart machine-gunned an unmanned skiff being towed by MV Sinar Kudus, a hijacked cargo carrier operating as a pirate mother ship. The skiff was destroyed. This was the first time an Australian warship had fired in anger at Somali pirates.
On 11 April 2011, Stuart interdicted the Yemeni-flagged dhow named Al Shahar 75. A boarding party from the frigate rescued three crew members being held hostage, while the fifteen Somali pirates, who had surrendered as Stuart approached, were allowed to return to their skiff and sail to shore after their weapons and equipment were disposed of.
In October 2013, Stuart participated in the International Fleet Review 2013 in Sydney.
In November 2014, Stuart and sister ship Parramatta were deployed to shadow a Russian naval force operating in international waters off Australia during the 2014 G-20 Brisbane summit. The Russian deployment was believed to be in response to troubled recent relationships between the two nations.