The three crewmen belonged to The Biscaglia, believed to be a chemical and oil tanker that was in the gulf off the Horn of Africa. The ship was attacked early in the morning by five pirates, said Jean-Marc Le Quilliec, commander of the French frigate Nivose. The men escaped the attack by jumping overboard and were rescued, he said
The three crew members were fished out by a German navy helicopter and were to be dropped off on another French ship nearby, he told an AFP reporter on board the Nivose.
The German government has reiterated its calls for action against the pirates operating along the coast of Somalia, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying last week that the country needed to act urgently.
The German Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, is set to vote in December on whether their troops will participate in an EU mission to hit the high seas before the end of the year. The government is trying to determine how troops can play a role in light of international laws, which separate police and military actions. EU officials have said that pirates must be tried by authorities in the nation where the highjacked ship is registered.
The waters off Somalia are among the most pirate-infested in the world. Several German ships, yachts and hostages have been captured for ransom by pirates off the Horn of Africa in recent months.