The first craft were probably types of canoes cut out from tree trunks. The colonization of Australia by the Australian aborigines provides indirect but conclusive evidence for the latest date for the inventions of ocean going craft; land bridges linked southeast Asia through most of the Malay Archipelago but a strait had to be crossed to arrive at New Guinea, which was then linked to Australia. Ocean going craft were required for the colonization to happen.
Early sea transportation was accomplished with ships that were either rowed or used the wind for propulsion, and often, in earlier times with smaller vessels, a combination of the two.
Ship transport was frequently used as a mechanism for conducting warfare. Military use of the seas and waterways is covered in greater detail under navy.
In the 1800s the first steam ships were developed, using a steam engine to drive a water wheel or propeller to move the ship. The steam was produced using wood or coal. Now most ships have an engine using a slightly refined type of petroleum called bunker fuel. Some specialized ships, such as submarines, use nuclear power to produce the steam.
Recreational or educational craft still use wind power, while some smaller craft use internal combustion engines to drive one or more propellers, or in the case of jet boats, an inboard water jet. In shallow draft areas, such as the Everglades, some craft, such as the hovercraft, are even propelled by large pusher-prop fans.
Although relatively slow, modern sea transport is a highly effective method of transporting large quantities of non-perishable goods. Transport by water is significantly less costly than transport by air for trans-continental shipping.