The shape of the Oracle script for 舟 was taken from the curved wooden boats used by Chinese people at the time. The changes for 舟 from its ancient Oracle script to its current form have been relatively minor.
The old Chinese saying “水可载舟, 亦可覆舟” (shuǐ kě zài zhōu, yì kě fù zhōu) translates to "Water can carry the boat, it can also sink the boat". This quote is attributed to the Tang Dynasty emperor, Li Shimin and describes the interwoven relationship between people (水 Shuǐ | water) and goverment (舟 Zhōu | boat).
China has a long and extensive Naval history. Chinese ships were believed to have developed and incorporated advanced ship designs such as bulkheads and cross-beam supports well before other Navies. In the early 15th century, China was the leading Naval power in the Pacific Ocean.
舟 is word and a radical used in about forty Chinese words. Most of them use 舟 on the left such as: 船 (ship)，舰 (warship)，and 艇 (craft); while, a few use 舟 on the top: 盘 (plate).