First of all, I was hit with a huge surprise yesterday morning when I saw pictures of the 5th 054A from HP shipyard. Normally, we see a nice progression of photos of the ship being built, but this one was almost ready to be launched by the time we got the first photos. On top of that, I had expected PLAN to stop producing 054 ships for a while after the 2nd batch of 4 were completed. After more extended look and checking my sources, it does appear to be authentically the 5th 054A from HP shipyard. They did a really good job of hiding this ship behind a civilian ship, so we did not know it was being built all along. By the time this ship was in plain sight, it was already fitted with sensors. This ship appears to be a little different from the previous 4 from far out, so I'm eagerly waiting for more close up photos before it is launched. As we know, 054 ships normally get built in pairs with one in HP shipyard and one is HD shipyard. With the appearance of this one, we can assume a 5th one will also be built in HD. That indicates we would have at least 2 054s and 10 054As. A while ago, Richard Fisher did an interview with one of the diesel engine makers that said they expected PLAN to produce about 12 054/As based on the diesel engines they purchased. After that, they expected PLAN to move on to a design that also used gas turbines. From that, I would expect that they stop producing 054A designs after this pair and start producing a modified design that is a little larger after 2 to 3 years. A separate possibility is that they will produce a few more 054As to rotate to Gulf of Aden. Anyhow, here is the new ship. You can see that the 4th 054A from HP (No 548) has come back.
Another interesting part is seeing a new MSA ship beside No 548. From following Chinese Maritime patrol ships, it appears that they are all either Haixun or Haijian. I could be totally off here, but Haixun ships seemed to be for the Chinese Ministry of Transportation and Haijian ships are for the State Oceanographic Administration.
According to the State Oceanic Administration website, that MSA ship should be Haijian-75. It was launched on July 29th and will be delivered to south sea branch in the end of October. It is one of the 4 such 1000-ton class ships that HP shipyard is building for the south sea branch. They are also building 2 1500-ton class ships (Haijian-15 is the first one) and 1 3000-ton class ship (Haijian-50). This is all part of China's effort to increase patrols in the South China Sea (or as other countries see it, an effort to dominate South China Sea).
Some of the ships currently in service: