In this paper a finite element formulation is proposed for solution of the time-dependent coupled wave equation over an infinite fluid domain. The formulation is based on a finite computational fluid domain surrounding the structure and incorporates a sequence of boundary operators on the fluid truncation boundary. These operators are designed to minimize reflection of outgoing waves and are based on an asymptotic expansion of the exact solution for the time-dependent problem. The variational statement of the governing equations is developed from a Hamiltonian approach that is modified for nonconservative systems. The dispersive properties of finite element semidiscretizations of the three dimensional wave equation are examined. This analysis throws light on the performance of the finite element approximation over the entire range of wavenumbers and the effects of the order of interpolation, mass lumping, and direction of wave propagation are considered.

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