Ship transport can be over any distance by boat, ship, sailboat or barge, over oceans and lakes, through canals or along rivers. Shipping may be for commerce, recreation or the military purpose. Virtually any material can be moved by water; however, water transport becomes impractical when material delivery is highly time-critical.
Containerization revolutionized ship transport starting in the 1970s. "General cargo" includes goods packaged in boxes, cases, pallets, and barrels. When a cargo is carried in more than one mode, it is intermodal or co-modal.