ROCKLAND — With a splash of champagne, the Maine Department of Transportation on Friday welcomed into service the state’s first new ferry in nearly 20 years.

The Capt. E. Frank Thompson, named after a former long-time ferry skipper, was christened at the Rockland Ferry Terminal by his daughter, Than Hopkins, who broke a bottle of champagne on the ship’s bow.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree joked that it looked like a Thompson family reunion because so many relatives gathered for the ceremony.

The ferry, which will begin regular runs Saturday, cost nearly $10 million, about half of which was funded through federal stimulus money.

Pingree, who lives on North Haven island and knows a thing or two about ferries, described the new vessel as a “lifeline.”

The 154-foot ferry, built at a boatyard in Alabama, can carry 20 vehicles and 250 passengers to and from Maine’s islands.

The Thompson is much taller than the current ferry — the 1968-built Governor Curtis. Adjustments had to be made at the Vinalhaven dock’s fender panels to account for the height and to avoid damage to the ferry. 

This story was updated at 5:05 p.m. to correct that the ferry was partly funded through stimulus dollars.