A test crew module for the NASA Orion Program sits in the well deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), Feb. 18. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Daniel M. Young)

PACIFIC OCEAN - Amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) departed Naval Base San Diego, Feb. 18, for an Underway Recovery Test (URT), a multi-agency mission in support of NASA's Orion program.

The URT, led by Expeditionary Strike Group 3, is the second of two tests the Navy and NASA will conduct prior to the Exploration Flight Test that will occur late 2014.

This test will be the first at-sea recovery of the crew module. During the URT, a test model of the crew module, its forward bay cover, and associated parachutes will be deployed from San Diego (LPD 22) and recovered to finalize techniques and procedures.

The first test, the Stationary Recovery Test, occurred at Naval Station Norfolk in Augst 2013 aboard USS Arlington (LPD 24).

"While this is an extremely complex mission, it's also an exciting one, seeing the crew of San Diego work with NASA and other government partners on the future of America's space program," said Capt. John Menoni, San Diego's commanding officer.

During the test, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 will provide air support for observation and documentation. San Diego (LPD 22) Sailors will conduct small boat operations in support of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three divers. Fleet Weather Center San Diego will be aboard to monitor and report sea and weather conditions during the test. Lastly, Sailors from USS San Diego and USS Anchorage (LPD 23) will support the well-deck operations and recovery of the forward bay cover and parachutes.

USS San Diego is homeported at Naval Base San Diego and conducts operations within 3rd Fleet's 50 million square-mile area of responsibility.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.