Petty Officer David Weydert says the search continued for the fifth person. Two Coast Guard cutters were racing to the scene about 18 miles off the Virginia coast.
A Navy helicopter rescued the four. Their conditions are not known.
The helicopter has been identified by the Navy as an MH-53-E. According to the Naval Air Systems Command website, the aircraft performs airborne mine countermeasures and onboard delivery missions. It holds a crew of up to eight, including two pilots and is capable of speeds of more than 170 miles per hour.
The helicopter measures 99 feet long and more than 28 feet tall and weighs 69,750 pounds.
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