An increasing focus on naval operations in littoral waters and the advances in weapon and sensor capabilities are driving an increased interest in the control of the underwater signatures of naval platforms. The technology for the control of machinery and propeller noise is well advanced, but there is a short fall in knowledge of the mechanisms that govern the underwater radiated noise due to the flow along the hull and appendages, especially for surface ships. The United States and Netherlands Navies have started a joint technology research and development program on Mechanisms and Prediction of Surface Ship Radiated Flow Noise, running from 2004 until 2007. This paper gives an overview of the research program and a summary of the results of the initial studies that have been carried out to date. Several possible noise source mechanisms have been identified on the basis of a literature survey and the results of a series of underwater noise measurements on full‐scale frigates. The objective of the program is to develop and validate scaling laws and theoretical models for predicting flow noise levels of surface ships.