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“We are doing this so that they can get away from an environment of drug abuse. Christian told the newspaper that he had found it easy to get hold of marijuana during his year on one of the ships.

They are maybe caught up in crime, such as drug-dealing and theft.” The council’s mayor, John Schmidt Andersen, defended lavishing money on the troubled youth at a time when his council is being forced to find £3m in cuts. “The Caribbean is probably the world’s marijuana capital,” he said.

"We would have costs with these young people whether they were sent on this project or not," he said.

“If we catch them, they either get a warning or they get sent home, which had happened in the past.

“It’s growing everywhere and even the police smoke it in a lot of places down there, so it’s just a matter of finding someone on the streets with a joint and then buying some.

Henrik Oxlund, Den Maritime Base's Managing Director, conceded that marijuana use could be an issue, but claimed that the company worked hard to minimise its use.

"If you're told a story that young guys and girls are being sent out on a holiday on a yacht, I can totally understand that doesn’t sound OK," he said. It’s definitely not a holiday, there’s a very strict programme there." He said that the youth, most of whom had dropped out of school, were given tutoring to help them make up the gaps in their knowledge, and worked from 7.30am to 7.30pm at night.

Local social services would actually save money over the long term, he argued, by making a strong intervention in the lives of these youth before they became entrenched in crime.