The transverse vibratory response of a long, slender vertical top tension riser, subject to an ocean current, is studied. The problem is treated as a coupled fluid flow/vibration problem, which is solved numerically. The fluid flow part is represented by the 2D Navier–Stokes equations, with large-eddy simulation turbulence modeling and strip theory, which are solved numerically to obtain the flow field and determine the vortex-shedding behavior in the flow. The approach flow is a shear flow ranging in Reynolds number from 8000 to 10,000. Given the flow field and vortex-shedding behavior, the transverse fluid forcing function can be determined at a given instant, which becomes the input to the Euler–Bernoulli beam equation to calculate the displacement of the riser, using a technique that involves the Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin (WKB) method and modal decomposition. The boundary conditions for the fluid flow equations are updated each time step as the cylinder moves. The natural frequency of the riser is tension dominated, not bending-stiffness dominated. With the decrease in tension with increasing depth, the natural frequency is affected. Therefore, the solution will be influenced by the depth-dependent tension. This study has indicated some interesting features regarding the vortex-induced vibration of a variable-tension riser. The vibrational response is greater for a variable-tension riser than for a constant-tension riser, when the variable-tension riser is assumed to have the same top tension as the constant-tension riser. Thus, this is one reason why it is important to take into account the variable tension when estimating fatigue failures of marine risers.