The dynamics of an elastic beam floating on the surface of disturbed water has formed the basis of a fairly comprehensive linear theory of hydroelastic behaviour of ships in waves. The existing theory cannot easily be extended to floating vehicles of more complicated shape (such as semi-submersibles), or to fixed offshore structures. A general method is presented, by which finite elements permit any three-dimensional elastic structure to be admitted in a linear hydroelastic theory. Sinusoidal waves provide the excitation of the structure and the fluid flow is three-dimensional. Some examples are given which illustrate the use of the theory and expose behaviour that has not been encountered hitherto.