The present work is motivated by phenomena occurring in the flow field around structures partly submerged in water. A three-dimensional (3D) unsteady flow around a rectangular cylinder is studied for four different submergence ratios by using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools with the large eddy simulation (LES) turbulence model. The simulation results are compared to particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements at the Reynolds number Re = 12,100 and the Froude number Fr = 0.26. The focus in our investigation is on the characterization of the behavior of vortex structures generated by separated flow. Another target in the study is to obtain a better knowledge of the hydrodynamic forces acting on a semi-submerged structure. The computed force coefficients are compared with experimental measurements.