Using offshore geodetic observations, we show that a segment of the North Anatolian Fault in the central Sea of Marmara is locked and therefore accumulating strain. The strain accumulation along this fault segment was previously extrapolated from onshore observations or inferred from the absence of seismicity, but both methods could not distinguish between fully locked or fully creeping fault behavior. A network of acoustic transponders measured crustal deformation with mm-precision on the seafloor for 2.5 years and did not detect any significant fault displacement. Absence of deformation together with sparse seismicity monitored by ocean bottom seismometers indicates complete fault locking to at least 3 km depth and presumably into the crystalline basement. The slip-deficit of at least 4 m since the last known rupture in 1766 is equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 to 7.4 in the Sea of Marmara offshore metropolitan Istanbul.