Case study - Marine emergency response

Holyhead Marina

The Challenge

When Storm Emma crashed into the Welsh coastline in March 2018, Holyhead Marina suffered unprecedented devastation.

The community looked to Adler and Allan to oversee a far-reaching incident response, clean up, containment and recovery operation to protect and restore Anglesey’s fragile marine environment – and vital maritime-based economy.

Following days of hurricane force winds, more than 3,000 litres of fuel from 80 stricken or sunken vessels clogged the marina. Nearby waters and beaches were littered with wreckage, refuse, and over 30 tonnes of polystyrene debris from damaged pontoons. Continuing storms threatened to circulate the pollutants over a wider area and further endanger coastal residents and wildlife. 

The Adler and Allan team faced an urgent, complex and hazardous challenge to stem the spread of two major contaminants – amid some of the most testing weather conditions our country has ever experienced.


Our Response

Within hours of the first alert call from Wind Farm Support Vessel Company, Adler and Allan’s Marine Response team were actively uplifting fuel and oil from incapacitated boats. Initial containment efforts quickly evolved into a wide-scale, round-the-clock recovery operation following additional support requests from Holyhead Marina and Stena Line Group, a long-standing Adler and Allan client.

With a Tier 2 oil spill emergency now declared, the team tapped into Adler and Allan’s nationwide fleet of specialist leading-edge equipment. Two marine Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs), carrying hundreds of metres of oil absorbent and fence booms, were deployed to work alongside the Tier 1 trailer located permanently on site as part of our existing Stena Line contract. 

An Ali workboat high-suction DISAB vacuum tanker, dedicated marine lighting, and high-capacity booms provided additional reinforcements, helping to efficiently capture pollutants close to their source, both under and over the water.

The co-ordinated land clean-up procedure also ranged from the

hi-tech to the hands-on, with field teams washing individual pieces of seaweed by hand and using rakes, shovels and modified leaf blowers to clear polystyrene and other debris from affected shorelines at a rate of 60m3 per day.


The Outcome

Despite a second severe storm, the three-month recovery project delivered measurable results within the immediate containment area and the wider Anglesey community. Our swift, targeted response reduced costs and downtime for Stena Line and Holyhead harbour, while returning the environment to a better condition than before the crisis. In total, the operation recovered:

  • 3,000 litres of oil and fuel
  • 1,000m3 of polystyrene from the sea and surrounding beaches
  • 28 vessels from the shore and seabed

Adler and Allan dedicated 13,000 working hours to the Holyhead project, following up their focused relief effort with forward-looking guidance to tackle future incidents. A comprehensive drone survey and full debrief exercise identified recurring themes and areas for improvement, as well as key milestones and successes.

In turn, a series of recommendations – across co-ordination, insurance, planning, pollution control and waste management – were communicated to all stakeholders and the programme was later studied by the United Nations as a blueprint for best practice.


The Adler and Allan Difference

Adler and Allan is recognised by the International Spill Accreditation Scheme (ISAS) as an accredited Tier 2 Oil Spill Response Organisation (OSRO) for sheltered / enclosed waters, coastal & large estuary and shoreline clean-up demonstrating our preparedness to respond to marine spill events with multiple deployments.

Our breadth of expertise, nationwide presence and fleet of specialist equipment – from rapid responder vehicles to a fully fitted boat – allows us to mobilise at a moment’s notice to minimise environmental damage, economic impact, and corporate liability claims.

  • 500+ dedicated professionals
  • Over 5,000 qualifications throughout the group
  • Uniquely validated pollution services to 50+ ports, harbours and oil terminals
  • Experienced on-scene experts, all fully trained and qualified in every pollution response discipline

As the UK’s leading marine spill contractual responder, we’re trusted by more than 250 organisations to safeguard life and livelihoods in pollution emergencies on any scale, anywhere in the country.