COBRA began to seriously look beyond the Cobra System in the 2120s, which saw the first surveys of nearby systems (all stars within six lightyears of COBRA prime and several beyond said sphere) and the establishment of Vangaurd Colony in 2128. Even so it's efforts were hampered as any interstellar voyage took months. It also saw contact with trade relations in 2127 (through Nerrax, an independent trading world some 13 lightyears away listed in the Raider's databanks, which would eventually be taken over by COBRA in by a coup in 2136) in which refined Dilithium, antimatter, small arms, B.A.T.s and spices were exchanged for capital used to acquire examples of alien technology and engineering information. Systems would be replicated, tested, compared, modified and revised in a process which steadily improved on what capacities they possessed. At first this yielded minor improvements but in a comparatively span of time it led to breakthroughs demonstrated on unmanned test craft. Most notable among these was what would become COBRA's forth generation of Warp Drives. These would be given their first tested in the Oculus class long range survey ship. Construction of two of these ships (the Oculus and the Mindbender) began in 2133 and was completed in 2135 and 2136. A third ship (the Venom) with considerable upgrades was launched in 2146.
The Oculucs was 168 meters long and weighed in at 125,000 tonnes. It had a large spherical primary hull which historians have compared to that of the United Earth/Federation Daedalus class cruiser. Each Oculus class ship has five medium particle cannons, one heavy particle cannon on a retractable forward mount and four torpedo tubes. The Oculus carried a crew of 300 personnel, which included some 60 scientists. It also had 30 B.A.T.s in storage and would generally be outfitted with Cryogenic systems able to accommodate up to 48 people. The Oculus class had a top warp speed of 85c (Warp 4.4) and a cruising speed of 60c (Warp 3.9). Several members of each ship's science team had been subjected to Neural Stimulation: a procedure which increases cognition but also produces a variety of mental instabilities, the most common (indeed nearly universal) of which is sociopathy. Their utility as polymaths is valued, but it does mean that among the functions of the ship's security staff is riot control. In any case, the primary mission of the Oculus class was to survey surrounding star systems.
For it's parasite craft, the Oculus would usually carry three S-5 Dragon Shuttlecraft in it's shuttle bay. However for many missions it would also carry with it three Single use Enclave Establishment Dropships (SEEDs) on external mounts. These simple flower shaped ships were initially designed to deliver troops and supplies to planetary surfaces, but they were soon modified for the purposes of delivering first wave settlers to planetary surfaces. Their basic thrusters systems could allow for safe landings, but were unable to reach orbit again. Each SEED contained 32 settlers in suspended animation, 12 B.A.T.s, several prefabricated shelters, a fusion reactor, a fabricator system, a nutritional synthesizer, two utility trucks, seed stock, a genebank, six exowombs and other equipment. If an Oculus class ship came a across an unclaimed habitable planet it would deploy (depending on it's viability) either one or all three of it's SEEDs, who's settlers would lay claim to this world and prep it for further colonization at a latter date, supplementing their numbers with defrosted settlers held in storage. Between 2136 and 2150 some ten worlds worlds were seeded with some some 18 SEEDs. Of these by 2160 two seed colonies failed due to equipment failure, one was overwhelmed by hostile natives, one was attacked by slavers, two were destroyed by Klingon forces, one was forced to evacute due to threat of Klingon attack and three had survived, received additional settlers and were growing as initially intended.
However one of the reasons why the Oculus class was built was a specialized long range scouting mission performed in 2138 through 2143. The Oculus was dispatched to make the journey with an extended fuel supply, much of it's science crew reduced (including the elimination of any Neural Stimulated personnel), it's life support systems augmented with additional redundancies. Making use of Warp Lanes for speed boosts the Oculus was able to reach the area near Sol in less than two years and began examining the surrounding area for signs of development from earth. While a set of agents (including a pair of ninjas) were deployed via shuttle the Oculus itself went out of it's way to avoid contact. The ship was hailed several times, but always responded with a set of audio responses in Faljei (a Sauroid language) while avoiding confrontation and eventually scouted out Sol. Eventually it was determined that on earth humanity was a minor player and even with the assistance of the more advanced Vulcans they were just beginning to push beyond Warp 2. Satisfied with the results, the Oculus returned back to Cobra Prime with the intel. While the data they provided was accurate at the time, the launch of the Franklin, Daedalus, Intrepid and NX classes would soon render said intel out of date. Moreover while the Oculus did not provide any information as to it's origins, nationality or mission on it's return journey it was scanned and catalogued several times by ships of several different species. In of itself a minor point, but on it's return journey the Vulcan science ship Sh'Raan detected human lifesigns aboard this ship. While inconclusive at the time this was enough to spark interest in the matter by the United Earth and Vulcan governments.