In this study, ultrafiltration membranes are prepared in outside skin tubular configurations using polysulfone polymer with and without mesoporous silica and aluminium oxide powder (~3.8–4.0 nm pore size) independently. Prepared membranes are characterized in terms of pure water flux, separation of single uncharged solutes like polyethylene oxide (PEO), water contact angle and average surface roughness. After filtration of turbid seawater (50–60 NTU) to remove the turbidity, pure water flux recoveries of all the membranes were evaluated after cleaning by backwashing with deionized (DI) water. It was found that flux recovery is better in nanocomposite membranes than in purely polysulfone coated membranes. The extent of turbidity removal was studied as a function of turbidity load and temperature of seawater. Incorporation of the porous nanoparticles in pure polymer matrixes not only enhanced the water flux without sacrificing selectivity but it also increased the fouling resistance of the UF membranes. After 2 month operation, no performance deterioration was observed for all the tubular membranes. © 2017, Desalination Publications. All rights reserved.