Flow mechanisms around a two-dimensional (2D) circular marine pipeline close to a flat seabed have been investigated using the 2D unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (URANS) equations with a standard high Reynolds number k-ɛ model. The Reynolds number (based on the free stream velocity and cylinder diameter) ranges from 1 × 104 to 4.8 × 104 in the subcritical flow regime. The objective of the present study is to show a thorough documentation of the applicability of the k-ɛ model for engineering design within this flow regime by means of a careful comparison with available experimental data. The inflow boundary layer thickness and the Reynolds numbers in the present simulations are set according to published experimental data, with which the simulations are compared. Detailed comparisons with the experimental data for small gap ratios are provided and discussed. The effects of the gap to diameter ratio and the inflow boundary layer thickness have been studied. Although under-predictions of the essential hydrodynamic quantities (e.g., time-averaged drag coefficient, time-averaged lift coefficient, root-mean-square fluctuating lift coefficient, and mean pressure coefficient at the back of the pipeline) are observed due to the limitation of the turbulence model, the present approach is capable of providing good qualitative agreement with the published experimental data. The vortex shedding mechanisms have been investigated, and satisfactory predictions are obtained. The mean pressure coefficient and the mean friction velocity along the flat seabed are predicted reasonably well as compared with published experimental and numerical results. The mean seabed friction velocity at the gap is much larger for small gaps than for large gaps; thus, the bedload sediment transport is much larger for small gaps than for large gaps.