The first of a new class of frigates for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Ma-Anshan was launched at Jingnan-Hudong Shipyard, Shanghai, on 11 September 2003, and a second ship, the Guangzhou, followed only days later from Huangpu Shipyard at Guangzhou in southern China. Although the new Project 054 design reportedly has been given the nickname "Jiangwei III" class by the Western intelligence authorities, the design has virtually no resemblance to that of the eight preceding 2,393-ton Jiangwei II and four 2,180-ton Jiangwei I frigates completed between 1991 and 2002. Instead, the Project 054 design is a much larger ship with the most complete "stealth" design features of any warship yet built for China's Navy, with the hull, minimal superstructure, single stack, and pylon masts all carefully shaped to reduce their radar signature. Displacing around 4,000 tons full load, the Project 054s are powered by four license-built French SEMT-Pielstick diesels each. The only armament on board at the time of launch was a single automatic 100-mm dual-purpose gun forward, but the upper deck area amidships is configured to accommodate two groups of quadruple antiship missile launch canisters, and space for what probably will be an octuple launcher for the Chinese version of the French Crotale point defense missile system, the HQ-7, is located on the centerline aft. It also is likely that additional small-caliber antiair-craft guns and antisubmarine torpedo tubes will be installed later. Already in place atop the after pylon mast is a large spherical radome covering the antenna for a probable air target designation and tracking radar, while the antenna for a Type 360 air and surface-search radar surmounts the foremast.
The winner in a contest under way since 1998 to select a replacement for the Royal Australian Navy's 15 hard-used Fremantle-dass patrol craft, Austral Ships of Henderson, Western Australia, is to deliver the first of 12 184-foot sisters, the Armidale, during June 2005. Based two-thirds at Darwin on the northwest coast of the subcontinent and the remainder at Cairns in northeastern Queensland, the new ships together are to provide a minimum 3,000 sea days per year and will have a range of more than 3,000 nautical miles. In addition to being larger than the Fremantles, the Armidales will have fin stabilizers and stern-mounted trim tabs to deal better with rough seas. Capable of carrying 20 rescuees or passengers in addition to their crews, the craft will carry two rigid-hull inflatable inspection and rescue boats and are to be fitted with an extensive naviation and electronic intercept suite. They are to be armed with a single Alliant Techsystems M242 Bushmaster chain-gun in an Israeli Rafael Typhoon stabilized mounting. The town names being assigned, in addition to Armidale, are Bathurst, Bundaberg, Albany, Pirie, Maitland, Ararat, Launceston, Larrakia, Wollongong, Childers, and Broome.
Seen while on trials this July, the 3,500-ton, 295-foot Royal Navy Hydrographic Service survey ship Enterprise was ordered during June 2001 from Vosper Thornycroft, which subcontracted her construction to Appledore Ship-builders of Appledore, Devon. With news of the ship's formal commissioning on 17 October came word that the builder, Great Britain's last major merchant shipyard, was to be closed. The Enterprise's sister, the Echo, was commissioned this March but has been laid up since July, when defects with her two Azipod propulsion thrusters were encountered. As a precautionary measure, the thruster pods from the Enterprise also were returned to the Finnish manufacturer for rework, and the new ship had to be towed to Portsmouth for her commissioning. The smaller, 1,447-ton survey ship Roebuck, completed in 1986 but until recently destined for early retirement next year, is now to be given a major overhaul and extended in service until 2014.